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Facebook Reportedly Developing Enterprise Social Networking Tool

Facebook is secretly developing a social network aimed at enterprise users, according to a report published in today's Financial Times. The report said Facebook at Work could threaten Microsoft's Yammer enterprise social network as well as LinkedIn and Google Drive.

At first glance, it's hard to understand how Facebook at Work would challenge both Yammer and LinkedIn. Though they're both social networks, they are used in different ways. Granted there's some overlap, Yammer is a social network for a closed group of users. Facebook users have apparently used Facebook at Work over the past year for internal communications and the company has let others test it as well.

The report was otherwise quite vague and I wonder if the author even understands the difference between Yammer, LinkedIn and Google Drive. It's not unreasonable to think Facebook would want to offer a business social network similar to Yammer or Salesforce.com's Chatter. But as PC Magazine points out, many businesses might have issues with a service provided by Facebook.

That said, I reached out to SharePoint and Yammer expert Christian Buckley, who recently formed GTConsult, to get his take. Buckley said there's been buzz about Facebook's ambitions for some time but he's skeptical that Facebook could make a serious dent in the enterprise social networking market despite its dominance on the consumer side.

"Honestly I think they're a couple years behind in making any serious move in this space," Buckley said. "They will undoubtedly attract users, and have a number of high-profile deployments, but there is a very real line of demarcation between consumer and business platforms, and I just don't see Facebook as being able to close that gap in any serious way."

Buckley also noted that Google, LinkedIn and Yammer have very different value propositions to enterprises. "Each have their own struggles," Buckley said. "LinkedIn may be displacing Yahoo Groups and other public chat forums, but my understanding is that they are having a difficult time translating that moderate growth into additional revenue beyond job postings. Yammer's difficulties may be a closer comparison and highlight Facebook's uphill battle to win over the enterprise by aligning ad hoc social collaboration capabilities with business processes. Microsoft has Yammer at the core of its inline social strategy, and like SharePoint, the individual Yammer brand will fade (in my view) as the core features are spread across the Office 365 platform. Instead of going to a defined Yammer location, the Yammer-like features will happen in association with your content, your e-mail, your CRM activities, and so forth."

What's your take on this latest rumor?

 

 

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/17/2014 at 11:56 AM


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