It is a large and growing industry. Collaboration and work group messaging applications are part of a projected $3.2 billion market, according to research firm IDC.
Workplace has had a weakness: no ability to integrate with other products and services. Competitors like Microsoft Teams (my firm is a Microsoft partner) and Slack have plug-ins to hundreds of other cloud-based applications that enable their customers to do things like manage documents, view each other’s calendars, track activities, take surveys, update forecasts and share notes.
That is why Facebook announced a new “integration directory” for Workplace that will include connectors to more than 50 software services like Microsoft SharePoint, SurveyMonkey, HubSpot, Salesforce.com and ServiceNow … and many more in the future, Facebook says.
Even with this big upgrade, Workplace still faces significant challenges.
The first is Facebook is perceived to be more of a consumer-driven service than a business tool used by enterprises. Even if that perception can be overcome, Workplace still faces an even bigger concern: winning over companies that have privacy concerns, particularly given the company’s recent troubles in this area.
“Companies, for now at least, are being more conscious around Workplace because of the lack of clarity around data usage that has plagued the parent brand,” Wayne Kurtzman, an analyst with the research firm IDC, told Reuters.
Facebook appears to be very aware of that issue. “We’re not launching an open platform,” a product manager for the company told CNET. “It’s really important to us (that) the integrations we offer our partners meet a high bar. Protecting our customers’ information is at the heart of everything we do.”