Facebook's shift into enterprise, which has been in a closed beta for 20 months under the working title Facebook at Work, is now ready for release and will do so using its new name, Workplace.
Unlike the popular social network that has repeatedly ensured its users that its services will remain free, the enterprise-focused version will launch with a new name as well as a new pricing model based on monthly active user metrics. Workplace will be available on both desktop and on mobile as an app and will include many features Facebook users are already familiar with including a News Feed, Groups, Chat, Live video, Reactions, translation and both video and audio calling.
The new service has also shifted its focus from specifically enterprise users and will now be open to anyone. Facebook has decided that the best way to build enterprise software is to do so using a model similar to how it built its social network.
The company has waited this long before releasing Workplace to ensure that it has been thoroughly tested and will be something enterprises want to adopt. However during its prolonged development and testing, a number of competitors have emerged in the enterprise communication space including Slack, Microsoft's Yammer, Salesforce's Chatter, Hipchat, Jive and a host of others.
The director of Workplace, Julien Codorniou, explained the reason behind the delay, saying: “We had to build this totally separate from Facebook, and we had to test and get all the possible certifications to be a SaaS vendor. We wanted to see how it would work in very conservative industries and government agencies. We had to test the product in every possible geography and industry, especially the most conservative ones. We feel we are ready for primetime now.”
Every user that signs up for Workplace will receive the same features but the amount they are charged will depend on monthly active users which Facebook has defined by as those who open and use the service at least once a month. The company will charge $3 per user per month for the first 1,000 users with the next 1,001-10,000 being charged $2 and any additional monthly active user after that will be charged $1.
Bjoern Ekner, Senior Director at Jabra Business Solutions commented: "In the UK, productivity and the quality of labour output is still a cause for concern. Businesses need a fresh approach to modern-day knowledge work where productivity and quality of work can co-exist. The platform is unlikely to replace email any time soon, but it will provide employees with the flexibility to do their jobs as they see fit.
"However, the adoption rates are unlikely to be high if there’s no clear vision, guidelines or reasonable objectives communicated by businesses to begin with. They must first ensure that they find the right combination of organisational culture and technology that will help staff make better choices and decisions about the way they work."
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