When information workers are asked what they want in a corporate collaboration platform, the most common response is “We want Facebook-like features.” Of course, when they say that, most are not suggesting they want to actually use the consumer-based social network for their internal collaboration, as most people understand the difference between personal and enterprise technologies. What they are really asking for are the social features that Facebook provides: user profiles, alerts, threaded discussions, the ability to follow, Like, or rate content or comments. In addition, users also want a quick and seamless way to do simple tasks, such as uploading content or sharing events and content with peers, all of which Facebook also provides. And so its no surprise that ‘Facebook at Work’ is now available.
For many years, there has been a gap between what the consumer-based solutions like Facebook provide, and what has been available to the enterprise — which are largely functional but ugly document-centric collaboration tools and platforms.
Fast-forward to today’s corporate collaboration platform, and the lines are becoming blurred between what is available for consumer and enterprise experiences. In fact, the social features we are all so comfortable using in Facebook have become expected features within any enterprise-class application, from CRM and ERP systems to the company intranet.
Information workers want ease of use, as well as secure, compliant, and well-governed collaboration solutions. And it makes sense. The consumer platforms we use every day are beginning to look quite similar, and that same look-and-feel and basic functionality has found its way (finally) into the enterprise. Like it or not, Facebook has, to some degree, become the standard by which all other vendors seem to be measuring their own user interfaces. However, the enterprise requires more than just a pretty UI.
With that understanding it’s no surprise that Facebook would attempt to enter the enterprise collaboration space, announcing the availability of their ‘Facebook at Work’ solution. But what does this mean for enterprise social collaboration?
For the enterprise, social collaboration is more than just microblogging (posting a personal status), Likes, and shares. What has made platforms like SharePoint, and more recently Office 365, successful has been their ability to provide structured and well as unstructured collaboration capability. And with the release of the Delve UX and various NextGen portal experiences, the SharePoint user experience (UX) is not only quickly catching up to the Facebook expectations, but in many ways it has pulled ahead.
Where Facebook is largely about bringing out the narcissist in all of us (I’m only half joking), SharePoint is about pairing content with context, and collaborating around business processes as much as with people and teams. We add our content, our experience, or data to a vast storage facility that can be accessed by anyone within our network, or who are connected to us through our organizational network. From there, people can search for, edit, and interact with that content as needed. With each interaction, additional metadata and machine learning is captured. The more we interact with the content and each other within our social platforms, the more connections are made, further enriching the associated content for future use.
Arguably, it is much harder for a social network like Facebook to add document collaboration capabilities and all of the options for security, compliance and governance that SharePoint provides than it is for SharePoint to provide a more dynamic interface. For one, SharePoint has a massive partner ecosystem, which has long provided innovation beyond what Microsoft could do on its own. While Microsoft has struggled to compete with Facebook and the many other social networking competitors, the partner ecosystem has stepped forward to fill this gap, providing additional features and improved UX options.
What is the value of social for the enterprise? Yes, you can share funny videos and connect with members of your team to plan a lunch outing, but the real value is when you need to go looking for a document or process diagram that you did not create, but is something you need. It is then that you access the system using your profile, quickly scanning through the vast libraries of connected information that is searchable, findable because of the careful categorization and tagging of that content, context added by the owner and/or his or her network, or even by complete strangers who somehow discovered the content, deemed it valuable, and then added their context so that they, and others, could find it again.
The social collaboration space continues to mature. At Beezy, we are constantly watching industry trends and evolving customer needs, adding powerful features that add to the SharePoint and Office 365 platforms so that our customers are more productive and happy. If you have not yet seen a demo of Beezy, let us show you how we can deliver the best of consumer-based social networking features — but within the context of your enterprise collaboration requirements.
With Beezy, you can have the best of both worlds. Contact us today for your demo.