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Why Facebook at Work isn’t going to work

22 Jan 15

Digital workplace researcher John Baptista is sceptical about how successful Facebook’s new Facebook at Work initiative will be.

As Techday reported, Facebook is set to trial the new scheme via its website as well as iOS and Android apps, but only among a small number of firms with staff of 100 or more.

Unlike typical Facebook posts, items on Facebook at Work will be visible only to the company in question.

However, Dr Baptista, Associate Professor of Information Systems at Warwick Business School and Associate of the Digital Workplace Group, cited a number of issues including privacy concerns as well as the fear of mixing personal and work profiles as just some of the obstacles the social media giant needs to overcome in order to succeed in its latest venture.

 “I am sceptical about the success of Facebook at Work,” he declares. “I see at least three serious barriers for this extension of Facebook into the workplace.” 

Baptista says, “the dynamics of ‘enterprise social’ within organisations is very different from ‘social networking’ in the wider consumer space. Within the workplace, social interactions are by nature more integrated in work processes and embedded in the structure and culture of the organisation.”

“Social interactions within the enterprise largely support structured communication, collaborative work, and finding and sharing experts and expertise, for example,” he says. “All of which Facebook may try to emulate, but will struggle to do because its nature is instead to support user-centred unstructured postings and to follow emergent activity streams.”

“Secondly, organisations worry about Facebook’s intentions, its company record on privacy and its commercial exploitation of users’ data,” Baptista says. “Facebook might take a different approach for this new Facebook at Work initiative, but the perception is still that documents and information shared through its systems are less secure and more open to be exploited commercially.”

Baptista says individuals still worry about mixing personal and work profiles and interactions. “While being able to use similar features and a more seamless experience across work and personal digital interactions may be attractive to some, it will also scare many others who might worry about posting and profile sharing across personal and work spheres,” he says.

“One last point to add is that there are already many excellent products in the market that support digital collaboration and connectivity within organisations, not the least the dominance of Microsoft products that increasingly offer robust social networking online services.”

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