Here's why Facebook at Work will garner corporate interest as it nears starting line

Facebook at Work will be generally available in coming months and the company is outlining beta partners. Rest assured that enterprises will give Facebook at Work a spin. Here's why.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Facebook at Work, the enterprise version of the social network, will reportedly launch in a few months and the big question will revolve around whether companies will adopt the service.

Depending on pricing, the corporate answer to Facebook at Work may revolve around "why not?"

According to Reuters, Facebook at Work will launch in "coming months." The service has been in testing for nearly a year and RBC has run pilots. Club Med is another company that has piloted Facebook at Work.

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So how will Facebook at Work do in the enterprise? Probably pretty well. Here are a few reasons:

  • No training. Most of the Facebook features such as news feed are carried over to Facebook at Work. It has been proven repeatedly that employees prefer to use familiar interfaces. Google proved that it could carry over Gmail into the workplace with Google Apps.
  • Most collaboration tools just copy Facebook anyway. The enterprise market is filled with companies that have cribbed Facebook features. Whether it's Jive, Salesforce Chatter, Microsoft's Yammer or some other tool, the interfaces all rhyme with Facebook already.
  • The price will be right. Facebook makes money on high volume and relatively low ad rates. The profit margins for Facebook are low relative to enterprise software. The margin differential from consumer to enterprise isn't as pronounced as Amazon Web Services, but it's not far off. Facebook could improve its revenue with the enterprise as a side venture just because it's more profitable than low-cost ads. In the end, Facebook at Work can undercut the market and still improve the company's bottom line.
  • Collaboration hasn't really been cracked. Collaboration is something that everyone needs, everyone uses and no one is satisfied with what's on the market today. Enterprise software vendors have been trying to improve interfaces and collaboration for years yet most workers (this one included) use a hodge podge of tools and usually stray from the sandbox the enterprise provides.

In the end, Facebook at Work may have an open field ahead of it. The only real wild card will be how it connects to back-end data. If those data connections can be had, there will be enough enterprises to give Facebook at Work a spin when generally available.

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