Facebook Inc. is looking to expand its growth in the enterprise market with the announcement Tuesday of a wide range of new features for its collaboration service, Workplace.
Announced at the company’s annual F8 developer conference, currently underway in San Jose, California, the new features for Workplace will keep the service competitive with established names in the market such as Slack Technologies Inc. and newly launched Microsoft Teams.
After a lengthy beta, Workplace for Facebook launched in October to take on Slack. Since the launch, the collaboration service has launched “custom integrations,” allowing businesses to tie the platform directly to in-house or third-party tools.
When Workplace launched, it was strictly a paid service, but earlier this month the company introduced Workplace Standard, a free version of its enterprise collaboration service. Workplace Standard is designed for small businesses that can’t afford the premium version, which is priced on a sliding scale from $3 per monthly active user for the first 1,000 users to $1 a month for 10,000 or more.
At its F8 conference, Facebook announced that Workplace is currently used in 77 languages across more than 14,000 organizations who have created more than 400,000 groups. The latest customers that have made the move to Workplace include Starbucks Corp., Viacom Inc., Discovery Communications Inc., the Singapore government, Campbell Soup Co. and AirAsia Bhd.
Here’s a look at Workplace’s latest announcements, including new integrations, custom bots, live video and more:
New integrations for file sharing
The company announced new integrations with Microsoft Corp’s OneDrive., Box Inc. and Quip Inc., which Salesforce.com Inc. acquired in August for $582 million.
With the new integrations, when users share files in a Workplace group, instead of only seeing the link, a thumbnail will display. Clicking the thumbnail will take the user directly to the file for editing or commenting.
Some of the other integration features for Box include the ability to share content from Box in Workplace; preview content saved in Box directly from Workplace; access recently shared Box content directly from the files tab in a Workplace group and more.
Build custom bots
Workplace customers will now be able to build custom bots for their organizations, which brings it further on par with competitor Slack.
Users will be able to integrate with Workplace bots in groups, just @metion a bot to initiate a task, or in chats. The bot will be able to take the necessary action and reply with relevant information. Bots can also start conversations when they need to send important information, for example, a Reception Bot that will alert you when you have guests waiting for you at the reception.
Another bot example provided by Facebook is Repair Bot, which users could contact when a piece of equipment needs to be repaired. Repair Bot would be able to acknowledge the request and allocate it to a technician to fix. It will also respond directly to the person who logged the issue with details of who will be attending to the problem.
If an organization doesn’t have the developers required to build a bot, they can make use of the bot platforms that Facebook has partnered with, including Converse.AI, PullString Inc., The Bot Platform, kore.ai and Avaamo Inc.
Support for streaming live into Workplace
Another new feature for Workplace by Facebook is support to stream live directly into the collaboration service, which will use the RTMP API that underpins Live on Facebook.
As the Workplace Live API is based on the Facebook Live API there are already various hardware and software encoders who are supported, including Teradek LLC., Haivision Systems Inc. and others.
Facebook also announced a partnership with BlueJeans Network Inc. that will allow users to stream multi-party video meetings directly to Workplace.
Other live production partners include AMV Digital Media, Live Media Group Inc., Groovy Gecko Ltd. and Pixelcorps.
Security and compliance integrations
To provide the necessary enterprise-grade security and compliance required by businesses, Facebook has partnered with various experts in the field to offer the necessary protection.
This will ensure that documents and other content can only be shared with authorized users in order to limit the risk of data loss.
The cloud compliance, e-discovery and data loss prevention providers that will provide integrations for Workplace include CS Disco Inc., Netskope Inc, Smarsh Inc. and Skyhigh Networks Inc.
For companies that have more specific business requirements, they can subscribe to webhooks to manage activity on Workplace in real-time.
Facebook will be hoping that these integrations, together with its existing support for major enterprise identity providers and two-factor authentication, will boost its credibility in information technology departments.