Previous Blogs

April 7, 2017
Facebook Debuts Free Version of Workplace Collaboration Tool

April 4, 2017
Samsung Building a Platform Without an OS

March 31, 2017
Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Creators Update Release Date

March 28, 2017
Augmented Reality Finally Delivers on 3D Promise

March 24, 2017
Intel Creates AI Organization

March 21, 2017
Chip Magic

March 17, 2017
Microsoft Unveils Teams Chat App

March 14, 2017
Computing on the Edge

March 7, 2017
Cars Need Digital Safety Standards Too

February 28, 2017
The Messy Path to 5G

February 24, 2017
AMD Launches Ryzen CPU

February 21, 2017
Rethinking Wearable Computing

February 17, 2017
Samsung Heir Arrest Unlikely to Impact Sales

February 14, 2017
Modern Workplaces Still More Vision Than Reality

February 10, 2017
Lenovo Develops Energy-Efficient Soldering Technology

February 7, 2017
The Missing Map from Silicon Valley to Main Street

January 31, 2017
The Network vs. The Computer

January 27, 2017
Facebook Adds Support For FIDO Security Keys

January 24, 2017
Voice Drives New Software Paradigm

January 20, 2017
Tesla Cleared of Fault in NHTSA Crash Probe

January 17, 2017
Inside the Mind of a Hacker

January 13, 2017
PC Shipments Stumble but Turnaround is Closer

January 10, 2017
Takeaways from CES 2017

January 3, 2017
Top 10 Tech Predictions for 2017

2016 Blogs

2015 Blogs

2014 Blogs

2013 Blogs

TECHnalysis Research Blog

April 11, 2017
Little Data Analytics

By Bob O'Donnell

After last fall’s official launch of their business-focused communication and collaboration tool called “Workplace,” this week Facebook unveiled a new free version of the service called Workplace Standard. The key differences between this version and the for-pay Workplace Premium version have to do with IT management-related functions, such as an analytics dashboard, administrative email, tie-ins with digital identity services for single sign-on, and the ability to scale to large numbers of users. From an end-user perspective, the two versions will be identical.

Unlike Slack and Microsoft’s new Teams app—both of which are direct competitors to Workplace—the Facebook offering has a very consumer feel. In fact, it’s extremely similar to “regular” Facebook, with a News Feed, chat groups, Facebook Live for video, profile pages, etc. Slack and Teams, on the other hand, have a relatively similar and more enterprise-like appearance.

These differences highlight the relative opportunity and challenge for Facebook. On the one hand, with over a billion users around the world, most people are familiar and comfortable familiar with the Facebook interface. Plus, many have likely used it in (and perhaps even attempted to use it for) work environments. However, there may be concerns among companies and employees that Facebook offerings are inherently more personal, and don’t fit as well into workplace communications. In addition, even though there are no ties between an individual’s personal Facebook profile and their Workplace profiles, there could be fears from both individuals and companies about crossover between the two worlds.

Of course, by now offering a free option, Facebook can let companies experiment with Workplace and see if those, or any other concerns, are legitimate. Companies can also use it to determine what kind of value persistent chat tools might bring to their organizations. As research I’ve recently completed has shown, while there’s been a lot of buzz around Silicon Valley for tools like Slack, real-world usage has been much lower. Another free option (Slack offers one as well) from a big company like Facebook should certainly help increase the trials of these tools, particularly in smaller companies, where the familiarity of a Facebook-style interface could prove to be very beneficial for the category overall.

Finally, the free option will also be important for the hundreds of millions of potential Workplace users outside the US. In fact, Facebook has specifically pointed out that Workplace is seeing its best traction so far in India and not the US.

The appeal of new collaboration tools like Facebook Workplace may seem apparent to some, but regardless of the price, it’s going to be a while before any of them become mainstream.

Here's a link to the column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

Leveraging more than 10 years of award-winning, professional radio experience, TECHnalysis Research participates in regular audio podcasts in conjunction with the team at
  Research Offerings
TECHnalysis Research offers a wide range of research deliverables that you can read about here.