Last week, Facebook released a private beta version of Facebook At Work, a new enterprise collaboration suite allowing organizations create their own social networks. FB@Work will feature a News Feed of “what’s new and relevant at your company,” extended user profiles, individual and group chats and the ability to share documents (but not editing).
Is FB@Work a threat to innovation management software? The answer to this question is yes and not yet.
By using innovation management software, organizations are targeting two major goals: connecting their employees and performing “idea management.” The answer to the above question is yes because by virtue of being an explicitly interactive app, FB@Work is directly challenging the interactive function of conventional innovation management software. Moreover, given Facebook’s tremendous popularity, FB@Work may well rapidly become software of choice for organizations that are newcomers to social networking as their employees would certainly prefer sticking to the familiar FB environment rather than learning a novel, unfamiliar design.
The answer to the above question is also not yet because for now, FB@Work doesn’t provide means for idea management: running idea contests, developing and evaluating ideas, etc. But this might be only for now. According to the FB@Work designers, the News Feed will be powered with an algorithm allowing sorting messages. Combined with the ability to share documents (and, in the future, editing them), FB@Work comes very close to a mode of targeted communications that is a hallmark of idea generation functionality provided by conventional idea management software.
Given Facebook’s vast financial and technological resources, its entering enterprise collaboration field does represent both current and growing competitive threat to companies producing innovation management software. How will the latter respond to the threat? We shall see. But a consolidation of this highly fragmented marketplace–the merger between Mindjet and Spigit being perhaps the only example of such a consolidation–may become all but inevitable.
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Though personal and business lines have significantly crossed over the years, not sure how mixing your social networks will maximize worker innovation and also does not seem very business secure to me. Haven’t used the app, but with all the great social vehicles out there for business, not sure that FB is really the way to go. Also, innovation through collaboration is not just a flat newsfeed, which is how I see FB.
“Technically,” I agree with you. Yet, I do believe that FB’s entering the field is a big deal. True, right now, FB@Work wouldn’t work for innovation. But as they say, every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.