Facebook’s recent venture toward enterprise offerings elicits some level of reaction from everyone reading the stories. Some will smile and hope for the day Facebook is a part of their daily “production” tool set, while others will frown and hope it never happens. In for-profit organizations tools are created, deployed or allowed in order to increase profits. If Facebook can increase profits, many enterprises will welcome it with open arms and tell the IT, security and legal teams to figure it out. So let’s assume Facebook is not only in, but that it is a work requirement.
In a Facebook-required enterprise, your manager might not ask what you are doing or working on because the Facebook stream is replicating every email reply, voice message, text, web click and calendar item into your Production Feed. IT has written a production feed aggregator that creates a daily time-stamped report of your logins, time away from your computer, the number of work items completed today and the number of minutes spent on non-work activates such as personal Facebook time. Then at the end of the week your production report is analyzed and ranked against all other employees. Finally, your ranking is made public and your work friends are allowed to “Like” your production effort for the week. If you receive enough likes, you get to come back to work Monday. If not, well, you know.
Yes, the last bit might seem extreme, but what other ways would a Facebook enterprise offering increase profits if not through employee activity tracking? Enterprise customers are not likely to submit non-public data to a Facebook tool, so improving sales beyond the current social media tools, marketing platforms and up-to-date websites would not be a selling point for new Facebook offerings. Moreover, implementing Facebook for the enterprise does not seem like an innovation driver. It could be, however, there are already collaboration tools and platforms that support innovative thinking, new products or process transformation and none of them require sharing the data publicly.
Now apply basic for-profit business thinking. Three ways to increase profits include developing new products or new ways to use existing products (innovation), driving revenue (new sales) and driving higher levels of production or lowering costs (efficiency). Since Facebook in the enterprise is unlikely to drive innovation or revenue, efficiency through employee tracking and reporting seems like the best enterprise entry point for Facebook today.
Is this the Facebook at work you imagined when reading the subject line? Probably not, and that is sort of the point. Before we bring our favorite non-work activity to work, we should define what we expect from it as well as why and how Facebook for the enterprise will make our work life better. It is unlikely to be a simple extension of our after-work activities. Facebook for enterprise has to pay for itself in some way and we should all be very clear about the ways we are willing to accept Facebook at work.