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Workplace by Facebook

Why I Need Enterprise Social–After Initially Rebuffing It

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Email just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s a cluttered, non-collaborative channel, which doesn’t foster real-time dialogue. The common reply-all threads  zap productivity but when I send a mass email to my staff, few reply with any useful feedback. I get no insight as to whom actually read my message, agrees with it or plans to take action as a result.  In the past decade, we’ve seen a wave of sophisticated online collaboration and enterprise social tools developed for document sharing, persistent chat messaging, and project management: Jive, Slack, Jabber and Podio are just a few. The cloud has opened up the floodgates for new communication and collaboration tools, all promising to help companies master internal communications.

Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems

Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems

Despite all this choice, collaboration tools often create more noise: a maelstrom of messages and feeds, but none of them tied together to help someone in their distinct job role stay on top of it all. Unlike personal social platforms, enterprise social platforms require structure and governance to organize and prioritize content for employees and teams. Otherwise, employees may get lost in these tools and return to email for the sake of comfort, diminishing the value of the platform.

Enter Workplace by Facebook. We think this enterprise social collaboration platform is going to disrupt the industry. In fact, our company, SADA Systems, is not only using it internally as our enterprise social platform of choice, but we went one step further and became a Workplace Launch Service Partner. We were the first in the world  to sign the Workplace partnership agreement.

This means we are one of the few service providers with the expertise to help companies successfully implement Workplace inside their companies. We help on many fronts, from planning and design to developing policy and governance, and delivering change management and training services. SADA’s brand value is based on several principles: we embrace challenge, we are industry-leading in technology so our clients can be successful early adopters, service delivery excellence is core to what we do, and we are committed to meeting our clients’ long term needs.

The press has reported that Workplace is a slam-dunk for companies, given the fact that 1.7 billion users globally already know and like the Facebook platform. The learning curve is, essentially, zero.  But there’s much more to the story:

Workplace gives us structure. Collaboration happens within Groups, where our employees post, share and react to content organized around specific projects, departments or roles. Workplace Groups allow managers to push information to employees, who then bubble up feedback that persists and is searchable for later reference. You can also easily control privacy and permissions–a critical security feature for enterprise collaboration. Workplace is now the central location for important company announcements, cross-functional project work, forums for help or feedback, and a little bit of social buzz.

Workplace gives our leaders a platform for real-time dialogue.  When sharing vital company news or strategies, leaders need a tool that easily tracks the impact of messages and fosters a dialogue with employees. With Workplace, our Leadership Team makes announcements, Workplace by Facebookrecognizes outstanding performers, shares articles to illustrate our core values, creates polls for topical reviews or criticism, and kicks out ideas for debate. Our people respond with likes, comments, shares, and sometimes in-line photos and we can quantify responses for the big-picture view.  For the first time, the executive team believe we are getting a true pulse on our workforce.

Workplace feeds a mobile workforce. According to Facebook’s Q3 2016 earnings report, more than 1 billion people use solely the mobile app Workplace by Facebookto access Facebook. To that end, Facebook has designed two stellar mobile apps: Workplace and Work Chat. The former works much like the consumer version, streaming your News Feed and providing easy access to groups, profile, notifications, settings, and help. For execs that travel as much as I do, you can be fully productive on the mobile app alone. I find that the Live video experience works best from a phone or tablet, which I used to broadcast my year-end address from our company holiday party to remote employees. The Work Chat experience is identical to that of consumer Messenger. I use text and video calls to check in with individual contributors.

The Graph API enables custom app integration and workflows. Facebook has been using Workplace internally for about 10 years to run its business. That’s afforded the company a wealth of expertise about how the platform can and should be adapted for work purposes. Recently, Facebook added another layer of custom integrations to its Graph API, which enables developers to connect Workplace to other enterprise tools and apps.

Workplace is the ultimate feedback loop. I imagine it as a dialogue between the staff and myself, all of us tuned in to the other’s concerns, responding honestly to events and open questions, while developing mutual understanding, intelligence and confidence. Any working relationship at this level, steeped in trust, is invaluable. But at the organizational level, it builds force. Can you put a price on that?



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