Why Facebook entering the world of work is an advertising goldmine. #facebookatwork


So, Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch announced that Facebook has finally entered the world of work.

FACEBOOKAs far as the consumer market goes, think about it: Facebook is worth 212 billion dollars by having a strong hold on our actions, interests, and preferences from 5pm to 9am and some fraction of your work day. If only it could get a legitimate way to suss out our interests from 9am to 5pm, that’s presumably twice the data it can mine to improve its targeting on you and me. And presumably, twice the Total Addressable Market. It’s just too lucrative to not fully know what you and I do for all those 8 hours. Investors should love this.

On the enterprise social networking front, as I discussed with Matt Kapko at CIO Magazine, Facebook’s entry finally polarizes this market into two very complimentary collaboration metaphors. On one hand, super simple, single purpose messaging and community applications like Facebook @Work, Slack, HipChat, etc. And on the other, collaboration deeply integrated across the application fabric at companies to improve process outcomes such as sales service marketing, HR and Supply Chain. and industry solutions. SAP Jam, the business I lead, is an example of the latter. At both ends of that spectrum the market is growing like wildfire right now at comfortable triple digits. Everything in the middle, not so much: they come off looking like either bloated Facebook @Work or a messaging app, or a weak process-centric collaboration application.  The market really needed this line drawn in the sand to remove all confusion. And it gives Facebook a real shot at making this work which is needed to support its advertising goals.

Welcome, Facebook @Work.

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Love that Facebook is looking at social business. It can only be good for the overall movement and the better use of companies' cognitive assets.

What I don't know yet is this: what will Facebook at Work offer that incumbent players do not? What are the underserved jobs-to-be-done that SAP, Jive, IBM Connections, Yammer, Slack, etc. aren't addressing? 

I advocate applying 3 tests to any idea to determine its strength, and to understand where the most uncertainty exists:

1. Does the idea address an actual job-to-be-done of enough people?

2. Does the idea provide materially better outcomes for the job-to-be-done than the incumbent solutions?

3. Are the total costs (not just money) to the customers less than the value of the better outcomes of the new idea? 

Facebook at Work does sound like it passes Test #1, an actual #jtbd. Cannot say at this point that it passes Test #2, better outcomes than the incumbents. Test #3 might pass if it's free with rich functionality. But the "hidden" cost of concern over FB having the data, and the reluctance to have ads popped in front of employees are some of the costs to consider.

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