Workplace announcements at F8 2018 show Facebook is serious about the enterprise

Workplace announcements at the F8 conference around integrations show business decision-makers that Facebook is serious about enterprise collaboration.

There were myriad announcements at the Facebook F8 2018 conference this week at the San Jose Convention Center. However, for CIOs, IT and all lines of business leaders, there was tremendous interest in Workplace by Facebook and specific capabilities for the enterprise. Facebook did a good job at F8 showing consistency throughout all the technology announcements from its core Facebook, Messenger and Instagram platforms, all the way through to Workplace and new resources for developers and ecosystem partners.

Facebook clarifies its vision and strategy

Data privacy and security were themes echoed throughout all the announcements. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg in his keynote, announced that 20,000 people will be dedicated to working on security and content protection at Facebook by the end of the year. Also, along with the security first mindset embedded, the overarching vision and key technology areas of focus are artificial intelligence (AI), Connectivity, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Centering on people and their experiences will be a driving theme.

Workplace by Facebook makes critical integrations announcements

The specific Workplace by Facebook announcements at F8 around integrations and the Integration Directory, speaks to a focus on integrating Workplace into people’s daily business workflows. For any business communications and collaboration tool to be effective, it has to come down into the flow of how people actually work. Collaboration has to be inflow and not above flow of the processes people are involved in on a daily basis. Integration into core business applications is critical.

Workplace plays in what I’ve been referring to as the emerging Conversational Workspaces segment, which includes offerings such as Google Hangouts Chat, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Cisco’s Webex Teams.  At the heart of this trend is a paradigm shift towards conversational environments and experiences, with newer conversational interfaces. The conversation flow is key to collaboration in people’s work processes. So Conversational Workspace offerings are characterized by a focus on the conversations between individuals, applications and chatbots as essential for both internal and external communications and collaboration. The conversations themselves are persistent and in the context of work processes with all relevant content artifacts and data. AI is embedded to power automation, intelligent conversations and lead to better business decision-making.

Facebook describes their Workplace Integration Directory as a central hub of the leading cloud-based tools and apps enterprise users are already using on a daily basis. The Workplace team has called this strategy, “Better Together.” In the modern digital workplace, enterprise users are leveraging myriad cloud applications to get work done. Traditionally, the enterprise communications and collaboration toolset were outside of business applications related to processes such as sales, marketing, HR and support. Lack of interoperability made integration difficult to impossible. In this era of multiple enterprise cloud business applications, integration is critical to embed communications and collaboration into business workflows.

Increasingly, technology providers are making an effort to focus on developer and partner ecosystems for deeper integrations. Facebook gave demos of several Workplace integrations at F8 and displayed some of the partners in the ecosystem such as Adobe, Atlassian, ADP, Microsoft SharePoint, Marketo, SurveyMonkey and ServiceNow among many others. On its initial launch, Workplace boasted integrations with cloud platforms such as Salesforce, Google Drive, Box and OneDrive. The key to success for Facebook will be building out this ecosystem of partners and allowing for more custom integrations with continued secure enterprise controls.

The expectations for enterprise users have changed, due to experiences in their personal and consumer lives. Mobility has changed expectations to how people want to communicate and access applications. Workplace by Facebook comes at a pivotal time in enterprise collaboration as one of the disruptors leading the paradigm shift toward intelligent conversational experiences.

My final thoughts

Integration of collaboration capabilities into the flow of work across all lines of business applications and processes has been the holy grail. However, enterprise sensibilities or concerns such as security and scale, still remain top priorities. The challenge and opportunity for Facebook will be in delivering an effective enterprise scale and security message for IT leaders along with a message for lines of business leaders who want better efficiency in critical business workflows. The messages have to resonate and show how Workplace can help companies arrive at key business outcomes. Those outcomes reveal the inextricable link between employee and customer experiences. Tools that support better and seamless interactions between employees internally and customers externally, help boost engagement and impact the bottom line.

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