A smartphone app called “Facebook At Work” might enable the billion-user social network to expand into the corporate training and e-learning sector. Facebook has been working on the experiment since at least last November, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Facebook At Work is a collaboration tool that lets employees communicate through either a Web interface or a mobile app, instead of using email. The software is still in the early stages, the company says.
Facebook At Work looks and feels similar to Facebook’s consumer-oriented social network service, so one of its selling points is familiarity. But there are no advertisements, and the application doesn’t track users or hold their data.
In addition to being somewhat of a professional meeting place, Facebook at Work reportedly aims to enter into Cloud collaboration, too. So that means employees could connect via the new, separate network with their co-workers and work on projects — documents, presentations and the like — together. That would be a direct attempt at taking away from popular Web-based collaboration tools offered through Google Drive, Microsoft Office and others.
A key feature of the app is Groups, which the company believes could replace email lists. Another feature is a news feed that’s similar to the consumer edition of Facebook. Reed Albergotti, a WSJ blogger, believes that Facebook “could face trust issues from chief information officers wary of allowing a company that specializes in gathering personal data to tap into sensitive corporate conversations.” But Facebook contends that it will gather no data on corporate users, and the actions of Facebook At Work users will not change their usual Facebook profiles.
When it’s ready, Facebook At Work will be available from both the Apple’s iOS App Store and Android stores.