Facebook at Work will it be a disaster?

With all the buzz surrounding the new ‘Facebook for Work’, there has been lots of speculation as to whether this will be a good idea or will it just fail. It has the potential to engage the 1 billion Facebook users however how will it be able to differentiate itself from the personal and transform our information into something that is work appropriate?

Here are 5 reasons why Facebook at Work sounds perfect but might crash and burn

1. Facebook is viewed by medium/large organizations as a personal (non business) experience

For years, companies have wanted Google quality enterprise search and they have gone on to make pretty solid use of Google Enterprise Search. But alongside that appetite for Google-like search, there has been an equally constant executive view that Facebook is 'personal' and not suited for a business environment.

Smaller companies may be happier to experiment with the ability to personalise content but larger corporations wont as they still see it as too personal. However that will not pay the hundreds of millions this venture needs to generate to justify a new market sector for Facebook.

 2. After Edward Snowden, there is no confidence in Facebook to protect corporate data

In 2011, Facebook at Work might have stood a fighting chance but the timing now could not be worse. The public has lost confidence that the personal data that they load to Facebook is protected and while, in our non-work lives, we might tolerate photos of our friends and family being accessed, that is an impossible risk threshold for corporates to shoulder.

3. Employees and employers will hate the fact they mighteasily confuse their personal and business accounts

The issue Facebook experienced in separating a personal from a business account is at the heart of the problem. Let's assume the identity separation challenge has been solved from a service stance, the issue we then have is human habits and behaviour.

 At work (like it or not) office based staff are checking their personal Facebook accounts (either on company devices or via their own smart phones) and the ease of mistakenly posting to the wrong site will not only distress companies but will concern staff a great deal.

4. Large companies require hosting on their own servers as they distrust cloud services still

It is as yet unclear if Facebook at Work will be hosted oncorporate or Facebook servers. But my hunch is it will be offered as a purely cloud-based service as that is in the Facebook DNA.

Companies are already anxious about using Microsoft SharePoint in the Microsoft Cloud and prefer 'on premise' for a sense of security. The MS cloud has a decent reputation for security due its legacy within enterprises but Facebook has no cloud reputation for companies and this will be yet another block to overcome.

5. There will need to be a compelling new experience from  Facebook at Work - and that becomes self-defeating

For medium and large companies to switch, Facebook at Work has to offer a far more compelling service than is currently available from the likes of Microsoft, Jive, IBM or Google.

But if Facebook keeps what they offer for work very similar to Facebook personal, then there is no powerful case to switch. For smaller organizations there may be more reasons to switch but even in that marketplace there are a strong number of smaller vendors with good products in service.

We will just have to wait and see what happens, it may take off and become the professional social media go to, or it will fail completely and never take off. We won’t know unless they try and I’m sure Facebook has done its research.

(Facebook at Work will launch in January 2015)

5 points described by Paul Miller CEO and Founder at Digital Workplace Group