Some more details are coming through on Facebook at Work, the social network’s big effort to move into enterprise communication services with a business version of its popular platform. Facebook has now sent out invites for a Facebook at Work launch event to take place in London on Monday, October 10.
The invite confirms our report earlier this week that it would launch next month, and it’s also significant for another reason. It will be the first time that Facebook has launched a global product outside of its U.S. home market.
That makes sense: as we reported back in 2014 before Facebook officially revealed the product, Facebook at Work was conceived and built in Facebook’s London offices, far from the bustle of Menlo Park and its strong focus on consumer services and the company’s existing platform.
Subsequently, while Facebook at Work gradually entered a closed beta, some of the biggest customers have come from Europe, including Telenor and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
We first discovered that Facebook was working on Facebook at Work back in 2014. Facebook eventually made its own official reveal of the product seven months later, in 2015, when it started to test it in closed beta.
Facebook at Work competes against a host of other enterprise collaboration and communication products, ranging from Microsoft’s Yammer and Salesforce’s Chatter through to HipChat and Slack.
The fact that it’s coming to the market at a time when many of these already have large and entrenched user bases will be a challenge for Facebook when it comes to signing up users.
On the other hand, its advantage lies in the fact that Facebook at Work’s user interface, functionality and even sign-in are all based on Facebook. That makes it instantly easy and familiar to use for many professionals, who will already be at least familiar with the workings of the social network, if not using it on a regular basis. (And that is crucial in a landscape where many companies have struggled to get their workers to engage well on their in-house “conversation” platforms.)
At the same time, Facebook has built in several security features around Facebook at Work that essentially make it into a completely separate platform when it comes to consuming and sharing data.
The event will be led by Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s Vice President of EMEA, along with a “number of other Facebook leaders as well as third parties and special guests,” the company notes in an invite.
It’s not clear if CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be there. He does seem to be in the general vicinity right now, posting photos yesterday from a recent trip to Facebook’s new data center in the Arctic Circle.
We’ll be at the event and will report more from there (if not before).