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The Enterprise Gets Serious about Connecting its Workforce

November 17, 2016 by Michael Affronti

Workplace by Facebook is out of its pilot phase and looking to scale, eyeing large corporations to connect thousands of employees to one another as an extension of the experience they know all too well in their personal lives: searching, friending, and messaging about the latest viral video, life event, or political misstep

If you read earlier No Jitter coverage about Workplace, you know that the company reports picking up 1,000 customers during its beta. Even with such strong initial momentum, the social network for the enterprise will come with its fair share of challenges in terms of meeting expectations with its features.

The news affirms what we’ve known for some time: People are ready for workplace technology to mirror the experiences they’ve become accustomed to within their consumer lives. People want choices for how they communicate and engage with their teammates. They want their employers to understand the value these tools can bring to fostering workplace culture and job satisfaction.

Let's explore what investors, employers, and users can begin to take away from the trend of the consumerization of enterprise collaboration that is so exemplified by Workplace by Facebook's entrance into this space:

Technology innovators are realizing the potential for networks and platforms to do more than they were originally designed to do.  As the lines continue to blur between work and leisure, tech companies have seen the opportunity to expand out of their niches. A solution that may have once only applied to a specific market segment may now resonate elsewhere. As tech giants look for new revenue streams and take on new ventures to stay relevant and capitalize on evolving workforce trends, it’ll be more important than ever to consider the nuances of the modern enterprise and its workforce in order to see their solutions successfully adopted.

A connected workplace is a more productive workplace. And, as such, businesses are realizing that they must think outside of legacy enterprise communications solutions to bring this vision of the modern workplace to life. But it’s about more than productivity alone; it’s about creating a lasting experience that shapes the way people get things done, enabling workers to better learn from each other and forge relationships that enhance the quality of the work that is created.

We know the importance of communication. We also know that there is strength in numbers: What any one platform alone can accomplish in bringing people together can only be multiplied when all communication types are united in one application. Unified communications can make social networks stronger, chat threads more valuable, phone calls more dynamic, and video conferencing more actionable. How? A number of points come to mind:

  • Messaging matters-- Messaging continues to be an important way we communicate, especially for Millennials. Messaging provides the benefit of synchronous communication, enabling teams to exchange ideas and reactions in real time. Yet, while messaging and chat functions play a critical role in modern communication, they are most effective when used in tandem with other communications options. Productivity lives at the intersection of voice, video, and messaging when working together. Give your fingers a break and connect via video conference; give your eyeballs a break and chat over the phone. Whatever you do, you should be able to move seamlessly between communication modes for messaging to have greatest impact.
  • Email haters are being heard-- Looking to make “inbox zero” a reality? Don’t worry, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Innovation in enterprise communications and shifting workplace culture are converging to thwart email fatigue. Business success requires an agile workforce, one that is enabled -- not held back -- by its communication tools.
  • Security shouldn’t play second fiddle-- Who says you can’t have a consumer-friendly product as a secure and safe enterprise platform? If Workplace by Facebook is being viewed as a lucrative gamble for the social network, there’s more to the story here. For CIOs to sign on the dotted line, security is just as important a factor for them as is understanding return on productivity and seeing intuitive design. To prepare for the modern enterprise, collaboration tools will continue to put security front and center.

Standing between a unified communications investment and the adoption of that investment is an intuitive user experience. It’s simply non-negotiable today; enterprises need solutions with a design and interface that gets work “working” again. Workplace by Facebook signals yet another attempt to solve the user experience for enterprise communications. As we observe new entrants into the UC market, listening to what business end users truly need today will continue to be an absolute in order to prepare and scale for tomorrow’s workplace demands.


This blog originally appeared on No Jitter, entitled, “The Enterprise Gets Serious about Connecting its Workforce.” Click here to read the original article.

Michael Affronti
Michael Affronti
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