In not really surprising lockstep social network giants Facebook and LinkedIn announced enterprise offerings. For Facebook it is ‘Facebook at Work’ – bringing all the social tools of feeds, posts, messages etc. to the world of the enterprise, limited to the employees of the same enterprise. For LinkedIn it is initially about allowing employees of the same enterprise to send InMails to each other, and then create enterprise level groups to foster content sharing.
Social in the enterprises goes in round 2 – The first round and hype of social in the enterprise is over. The aftermath of the first round has left users and vendors exhausted. Good to see a new spark into this key area of productivity. The way how business users interact, share content, collaborate is ironically more fragmented and likely broken that in the world of a consumer. A Facebook user, a Skype user has likely better communication and collaboration options at their disposal than the enterprise user. Ironic and time to change that.
Consumerization of Enterprise software finds the next gear – If Facebook and LinkedIn are serious to put their muscle behind this, it will rev up the level of ease of use for enterprise users. Good news certainly, as despite all the talk, most enterprise solutions have not (yet) reached the same level of usability as consumer grade applications.
Users may win – Especially the Facebook offering will be a big win for users. The 1B+ Facebook users are ‘suddenly’ familiar with their enterprise communication and collaboration tool. Adoption, comfort levels could reach a new height for enterprise users.
Practitioners face challenges – For the HR practitioner this will be initial headaches, as another system will have to be maintained, updated and monitored. And the blur of private and professional – with all its pros – has some chunky cons, too.
Established vendors need to step up – Assuming both Facebook and LinkedIn will not focus elsewhere soon – then ease of use and pricing of established vendors will be under pressure. While Facebook and LinkedIn ultimately need to find monetization alleys for this offering – they can take a more relaxed approach than the established vendors.
Partnerships on the horizon – There should be no surprise of some smaller enterprise vendors and adjacent vendors (e.g. in Content Management) will gladly defer and partner with LinkedIn and Facebook as their core communication and collaboration vendor. This will help them to focus R&D investments and Facebook and LinkedIn get a step up into enterprise and open new revenue alleys.
The real question is – what took Facebook and LinkedIn so long? One can argue they had to solidify their leadership position with consumers, but that as not really anymore a contest for Facebook overall and for LinkedIn for business consumers. As I have blogged earlier, LinkedIn is de-facto probably the number #2 or #3 HCM vendor already – through its personal and recruiting subscription revenues – but did not act like a HCM vendor.
Overall I see this as a good change for the Future of Work, as it will spark new life into both usability, adoption and the overall a little sleepy social market for enterprise. It also will start a new conversation on identity, something that the traditional enterprise vendors with the notable exception of Salesforce.com (Identity Connect) have largely ignored. But in the short term it creates new headache for HCM practitioners, who have another network and user setup to manage. If Facebook and LinkedIn will leave it with the personal productivity, communication functions will remain to be seen. Exciting times ahead.
My colleague Alan Lepofsky has a great take on Facebook's new offering, too - please visit his blog post here.
What is your POV? Please share!