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CxO's: Now is the time to Invest in Facebook as part of your Enterprise IT and remote working strategy. Like other consumer tech companies (e.g. Amazon, Google, etc.), Facebook has established itself as a significant player in the Enterprise IT market via its 'Workplace' for business platform.

Facebook recently announced that the Workplace platform is serving five million paying customers and includes a raft of Enterprise IT features to support remote working. It's a widespread fact that in 2021 the majority of office-based employees will continue to work remotely. As a result, CxO's need to prepare for the "Future of Work" and should consider Facebook Workplace as a crucial part of their remote working strategy.

Throughout my career, I have tracked the rapid rise of so-called 'consumer' technology platforms like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google as they enter, and then dominate the 'Enterprise IT' market.

As a result, I've achieved plenty of insight working for and partnering with these companies (as well as spending time with a few of the traditional 'Big IT' firms). This experience has given me a unique perspective on the 'consumerisation of IT'.

The big IT prize

What is it about the Enterprise IT market that makes these very cool, west coast tech giants want to work with large, slow, bureaucratic enterprise organisations? Well, it's a big market; Gartner calculates that global IT spend was $3.7 trillion in 2019 (and likely to be significantly higher in 2020), so it follows that tech platforms would almost certainly want a slice of that pie.

Platforms will win

Tech platform businesses are well-positioned to enter the Enterprise IT market; they are well funded (by their 'consumer' business); they have the global assets and infrastructure to support organisations wherever they are. Tech platforms also have legions of world-class software engineering talent innovating every second of the day and with literal billions in capex budget (to ensure they stay ahead of the competition).

"Why would I trust my Enterprise IT workloads with an online book retailer?" - Global CIO, Standard Chartered Bank.

But the journey to success in the Enterprise IT market takes time, and it isn't always easy. I recall a great story from the early days of AWS when I went to meet the CIO of a large global bank back in 2011 who couldn't believe that Amazon "an online book retailer" had entered the Enterprise IT market offering infrastructure as a service. It made me smile to see that same organisation has recently gone "all-in" on cloud services.

When entering Enterprise IT, tech platform companies need to dig deep for the long-haul and recognise that the Enterprise market is different. However, if they continue to invest, innovate and work with the right partners, then the returns will come. To put this into perspective, AWS just reported $35bn cloud revenues in 2019.

Based on the above, I was encouraged to see that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a massive leap forward in their strategy to deliver remote working solutions for Enterprise IT. In particular, Zuckerberg expects to have 50% of Facebook staff permanently working remotely via their 'Workplace' platform.

Future of Work = Flexible (Secure) Remote Working

My view is that the newly announced solutions will provide a considerable amount of value to any organisation that is seeking to empower their workforce with next-generation tools and adapt their ways of working for both remote workers and frontline staff.

Suppose you pause for a moment to consider how Facebook has disrupted how we communicate and collaborate in our personal lives? The Facebook app, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp - yep they own WhatsApp too. As a result, it's only logical that Workplace will transform and ultimately improve how we communicate and collaborate at work.

Challenging Perspectives: Six Good Reasons to Consider Workplace for Enterprise IT

Following Mark's announcement and the updates from Workplace, I wanted to challenge your organisations perspective on Workplace and make a case for why it's a smart move for CxO's to consider Facebook's Enterprise IT business as part of a future digital/IT strategy….

Ubiquity

Almost half of humanity (i.e. three billion people) elect to use Facebook consumer apps (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger) to communicate and collaborate in their personal lives.

Security & Privacy

Despite popular pre-conceptions promoted in the mainstream media, Workplace has the highest standards of security and privacy. I know this first hand as I regularly run security workshops and infosec reviews with CISO's from highly regulated industries (i.e. financial services). Workplace also employs EY as an independent auditor who produces a detailed 138-page security report on an annual basis. Unlike consumer platforms, if your organisation is paying for a Workplace licence, then you alone will own and control the data.

Risk Management

If the legacy apps you're providing to your workforce aren't fit for purpose, then your staff WILL find their own 'shadow IT' solution. Whataspp (a consumer app with limited Enterprise security controls) is a widely used example of this and exposes your organisation to significant risk compared to deploying the Workplace platform.

User/Mobile Experience & Ease of Use

Most of your workforce is already familiar with the features and functionality of Facebook consumer apps, so it's easy for them to start using Workplace for work. For those who aren't, the tools are intuitive, making the UX a positive feature vs a legacy Enterprise app that they may have never used. Workplace's Mobile UX is also world-class with few organisations matching Facebook's software engineering capability for mobile. The result will be more confident users and a higher rate of adoption.

Optimised for Humans

Research shows that our brains can process video, images and gifs 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore it's true to say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Executives that use visual platforms like Workplace will achieve a far higher rate of engagement from their workforce.

Remote Working Revolution

Last but not least, the global pandemic has stress-tested every organisation's ability to work remotely and across distributed teams. Organisations already using Workplace were able to keep people informed and connected while working from home. Workplace on Portal, a low cost, easy to deploy home video conferencing solution has also been a massive success during lock-downs. Looking to the future, Workplace is investing in developing its Oculus virtual reality product for Workplace meaning we are not far from remote immersive training experiences.

Which companies are already using Workplace?

It doesn't matter how good a technology platform is, not many CxO's want to take the risk of being an earlier adopter. The excellent news for risk-averse CxO's is that Workplace is the rising platform that you may not have heard of (a bit like AWS in the early days). However, leading brands such as AstraZeneca, Arrow Global, BT, Collinson, Deliveroo, ED&F Man, GSK, Natwest (RBS), Royal Mail Group, The Office Group and Vodafone have already adopted the Workplace platform with success.

How do I get started?

As with every technology platform business, Workplace relies on partners like Generation Digital to help clients uncover the competitive advantages of using their platform. We regularly run briefings for clients where we collaboration with your executives and Facebook subject matter experts to explore how Workplace can advance the way your staff work. We can also provide a value assessment, calculate return on investment, help shape your business case, provide a security review and be on hand for a successful deployment.

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