Facebook has updated its Workplace business software with 50 new app integrations from the likes of ServiceNow, Atlassian’s Jira Cloud and Microsoft Sharepoint.
Workplace, launched in late 2016 to bring Facebook’s popular social network to the world of business, is now used by more than 30,000 organizations worldwide.
Workplace had only a handful of integrations at first, including Office 365, Salesforce and OneDrive. The new integrations mean that it is extending its focus from “collaboration to automation and IT integration,” said Julien Codorniou, head of Workplace at Facebook, in an interview.
“What customers were telling us was, ‘Hey, we use Sharepoint, we use Okta, we use G Suite, we use Jira, and we use Workplace, why can't you make these apps work together?’ That is the vision behind the partnerships and integrations we are announcing.”
Other integrations available through the new Workplace app discovery portal include SurveyMonkey, Cornerstone onDemand, Workday, and Smartsheet.
The third-party integrations are designed to help business users get more done from directly within the Workplace app. There have been calls for such integrations from Workplace users. In an earlier interview, Virgin Atlantic CIO Don Langford explained how the airline plans to connect Workplace with other business apps, such as its ServiceNow IT service management platform. “My dream … is to take a lot of processes that we have now and either have Workplace as a front-end […] or to just completely replace a process and have it stay within Workplace,” he said.
Building an ecosystem of applications around Workplace has been a priority for Facebook, said Wayne Kurtzman, IDC’s research director.
“Integrations was an area that Workplace by Facebook needed to improve, and these announcements demonstrate that they have heard their customers,” he said. “The question remains: Are these integrated enough for users, or do they want deeper, more functional integrations?”
The full line-up of integrations is available only to Workplace Premium tier customers, though a limited number will also be accessible by those on the free Standard plan for the first time.
Despite the recent increase, the number of integrations available with Workplace lags behind competing team collaboration and messaging applications. Slack, for example, has, more than 1,000.
Codorniou said that quickly adding large numbers of integrations is not a priority. “We didn't choose to go after quantity, we really wanted to go after quality,” he said.
Raúl Castañón-Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research said: “Facebook wants every employee – including those that are not tied to a desk and a computer – to use Workplace; a streamlined user experience is consistent with this approach.”
More integrations are coming, with third-party app developers invited to build new ones for Workplace. “We have just scratched the surface of what is possible,” the company said in its blog on Tuesday.
Facebook noted that data security is taken into account as new integrations are “extensively” reviewed internally and via a third-party security audit as they are made available. Workplace admins will also have full control over live integrations, which can be managed through the Workplace Admin Panel.
While consumer data privacy has been a hot-button issue for Facebook, Codorniou said the Workplace business operates separately. “Workplace and Facebook are two different products, with two very different business models,” Codorniou said. “This is, of course, a discussion we have had with each one of our customers.”
He said there has been no “significant or meaningful impact on our growth” since questionable Cambridge Analytica data practices become public.
Even so, analysts believe consumer data privacy concerns could have implications for Facebook’s enterprise business.
“The halo effect of consumer data privacy is still an issue that Workplace is fighting, although their ecosystem is separate from the main platform,” said Kurtzman. “The question is, can Workplace compete in the collaboration market on its own merits.”
Said Castañón-Martínez: “There is not much that companies can do if employees refuse to use Workplace due to privacy concerns. Facebook’s approach to target every employee in the organization could make this even more challenging.”