Facebook Workplace adds algorithmic feed, Safety Check and enhanced chat

Workplace, the Facebook version designed for companies that have more than 30,000 organizations as paid customers, is increasing the service today with a host of new features to help it compete with teams like Slack and Microsoft.

Additions will be announced at a new independent conference called Flow, the first time Facebook builds what is likely to become a recurring event for a specific product, Workplace director Julien Codorniou told me in an interview. He described Workplace as "the first launch of SaaS Facebook [19459005"NosdicequeparalosclientesexistenteselobjetivodeFlowesmostrarnuevascaracterísticasqueprofundizanelcompromisodelosempleadosconWorkplaceparaquenopuedanimaginarelcambioYparalossociosdesoftwareempresarialconlosqueseintegraFacebookesparafomentarunecosistemaquerodeaaWorkplaceparaquepuedaadaptarseacualquiernegocio

In a major update to the functions of "chat" Workplace (conversations that occur outside the news source, launched for the first time last year), users can now initiate chats, calls and video conversations, either one-on-one or in groups, in the style of WhatsApp or Messenger. Facebook is also facilitating navigation through large volumes of messages in its channels by adding answers, not bothering and fixing features: the first step of Facebook to bring the algorithmic classification to Workplace. And Facebook also brings its Safety Check function from the main application to Workplace, which is delivered through Workchat, as a tool that administrators can control to verify the status of employees during a critical incident.

Workplace has collected 30,000 businesses as clients in the two years since it was launched (including some large ones such as Walmart, the world's largest employer); and today he also added a couple of notable big companies to the mix: GSK, Astra Zeneca, Chevron, Kantar, Telefonica, Securitas, Clarins UK, Jumia and GRAB.

But Facebook has never revealed how many users (or "seats" ", in business language) has it in Workplace. As a point of comparison, today Slack has 8 million users in 70,000 organizations, and Facebook has not updated its figure of 30,000 in a year.

Chat of multiple companies on Facebook Workplace

The range of features that Facebook presents today are outstanding both for their breadth and for what they intend to do. Some help put Workplace more on par with basic Facebook experience in terms of functionality, but ultimately, everyone is directly focused on turning Workplace into something that best fits the way companies already use IT.

The chat functions that are being incorporated develop the minimum chat functions that were already present in Workplace and, essentially, create something like WhatsApp or Messenger that is within the same safe framework as Workplace. It is, indeed, Facebook's first step towards unified communications: a specific branch of enterprise IT that used to be centered around PBX and other costly physical equipment, but more recently it has become more virtualized with the increase in IP voice and systems based on the cloud that can be used through any Internet connection.

Workplace already had a function for up to 50 companies to converse in multi-organizational conversations on the platform, and now if some members of those groups want to take the conversation to a wider level. Potentially direct channel with voice or video calls, can do so directly from the application without having to open a separate messaging client (which may or may not be under IT control). A maximum of 50 people can join a video call in Workplace.

The three functions that help you better organize your conversations (do not disturb, answer and fix important elements) will be especially welcome for people who have especially "noisy" channels in the workplace.

The answers, said Codorniou, will work "as in WhatsApp", where you can select a message and answer, and it will appear with your subprocess later in the source.

But perhaps they are the most remarkable of all, because it will be the first time that Facebook enters the "algorithmic" classification in Workplace. For those who already use normal Facebook, Twitter or other social networking services, the algorithmic classification is well known, as it plays with the sequence of publications to show what is considered more important, compared to the most recent. .

In the case of fixation, Facebook is allowing IT managers, and users, to participate effectively in algorithmic classification: administrators can post "important" publications at the top of a source, and that will affect what that users see and can respond first. "If the CEO posts a message, this could be more important than something posted by an inmate," he said.

Do not disturb, meanwhile, it will allow users to set times when they will not receive ping messages, but when you "" Back "to Workplace, Facebook decides what is ordered at the top of what you see. [19659015] Julien Codorniou, Vice President of Workplace for Facebook

Codorniou notes that Facebook uses machine learning and AI "to make sure you do not. use Workplace for two weeks [as an example] has the most relevant information at the top of the news source. "The signals he uses to order include who he works with and in which groups he is most active." It's algorithmic by default, "he said, adding that this was something that Workplace users were asking for." People no longer believe in chronological feeding, "he said." It is important to ensure the reach of communications equipment. "

Security control also fits in. Here, Facebook will place IT / Workplace administrators in the driver's seat, "giving them the keys to the function," said Codorniou, and letting them control the use and distribution of a function. that regular Facebook is controlled by Facebook itself.

Frederic introduces a deeper diver in Safety Check here, but the main idea, as Codorniou described it, is that it allows companies " track and clarify who is safe and who is not "when a particular location has been through an emergency or critical incident." There are applications that companies can use to run controls security, or sometimes they can use SMS, but they tend to work more manually and are more difficult to execute quickly, he said. Facebook does not reveal how well its applications penetrated organizations like Walmart and Starbucks, but this potentially becomes a lever to help Workplace distribute more widely.

"Employees are the company's number one asset, and this helps you make sure you're safe," he added. "People do not want to play Candy Crush, but things like Live," which Workplace launched last year, "and Safety Check are relevant. They help turn businesses into communities. "

(Community, of course, is the main theme of Facebook these days.)

All these updates are happening at a time when Many people have been analyzing Facebook for their approach to user privacy and personal data.

The problem stood out notably on the Cambridge Analytica scandal many months ago, specifically on how third parties could access user information; and then, more recently, Facebook faced criticism two weeks ago, when an error arose in one of its features that exposed user information to malicious hackers, both of which were directly addressed by Facebook's main consumer application. , but I could not help but wonder what kind of impact it has had on the business of the company, given that the security levels in the Networks of workplaces tend to be higher. connected to corporate information.

"We had some questions, of course, but we have no reason to believe that Workplace was affected," said Codorniou. He noted that there had once been a function to log in to Workplace using a user's Facebook ID, but that it was disabled at some point. "We have been investigating, but most of the clients are in single sign-on," he said, using services such as Okta, One Login and Ping to connect and start the employees' session in their workplace spaces.

The scale of Facebook offers great advantages in the company. The consumerization of the office stack means that Facebook can easily transfer their family characteristics. It is large enough to be a dog food workplace in the company. And already has advertising relationships with many of the best brands in the world. But being a technological giant is accompanied by scandals and constant criticism. Facebook will have to convince business leaders that their social problems will not cloud their suits.