Monday, September 17, 2012

Facebook as Enterprise Collaboration Platform: Let's brainstorm

I received surprisingly pleasant feedback on my last post Facebook in an Enterprise: Weird thought or an untapped potential?, so I thought of taking a step further and tried drilling down if my 'weird thought' can take realistic shape and if Facebook has the right ingredients to evolve as an enterprise collaboration / social media platform.

When its comes to enterprise collaboration / social media platform, enterprises usually expect the system to provide following functionalities, which add value to their business. Wikipedia and AIIM define this in following broad terms:

  • Search: allowing users to search for other users or content
  • Links: grouping similar users or content together
  • Authoring: including blogs and wikis
  • Tags: Allowing users to tag content
  • Extensions: recommendations of users; or content based on profile
  • Signals: allowing people to subscribe to users or content with RSS feeds

I thought of adding few more points to the above to make it more descriptive: 
  • An enterprise scale system which can accommodate large amount of data including text, images, documents, videos etc.
  • Networking among team members and strengthening cross-functional team collaboration.
  • Ability to provide discussion boards with commenting and subscription features.
  • Publish news, announcements and events information
  • Real-time IM
  • Voice and Video conferencing facility

So does Facebook fits into our expectations? 
The short answer is Yes. Facebook provides you all including ability to publish news/info for people in your community, search info/people, create groups, events, hold conversations, IM, Video conferencing and even the ability to deploy apps. Though we might debate on the authoring features like Blog and wikis, but don't we agree that the simplicity of posting information on Facebook and the powerful search lets users search for the desired content on a click? So consider a Facebook post as a blog post and the ability to search information across the system works more than a wiki. And all this comes at no-resistance from layman users, because they have already mastered the art of collaboration through Facebook way.

Can we  really compare the apples?
Now let's take a step back and see if the most popular collaboration solution from Microsoft, SharePoint meet the above criteria. While SharePoint provides various capabilities listed above, it still lacks the built-in real-time voice/video collaboration and customers need to have additional software including exchange and Lync to get you all what you need. So two questions emerge:
  1. Is it the time for the industry analysts to include the IM and Video Conferencing to include a must-have feature in Collaboration/Social Media solutions?
  2. Does the Facebook really scores above SharePoint?
Would be interesting to know your thoughts......



  1. Intesting approach adding IM and VC, I would think if you do that you would need to add ECM as well which FB does not have. If you look at the entire MSFT Stack there is no comparison.

    1. ECM has a broad set of features. I don't think a collaboration solution will require the full ECM system, but a robust repository in the back will be ideal to store, manage and backup/restore contents.


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