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April 19, 2017

Facebook Workplace adds file-sharing, bots, and more to stick it to Slack

by John_A

Why it matters to you

With these updates, Facebook’s productivity solution is growing into a compelling alternative to Slack and other competitors.

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Facebook has made a big push into the corporate space with Workplace, its business-oriented social and productivity platform that looks and feels an awful lot like regular Facebook, but is geared toward productivity. The social networking pioneer announced a variety of new features for Workplace, including support for various file-sharing services, task automation “bots,” and more, at its annual F8 developer conference.

Box, Microsoft, and Salesforce, which owns productivity software creator Quip, are all supported by Workplace from this point forward — a boon to businesses that already rely on those services, and could benefit from Facebook’s up-and-coming Slack competitor. Deeper integration means you’ll now be able to seamlessly move from Workplace into these third-party apps, with the help of rich, detailed thumbnails in messages and posts.

Bots will be another major part of Workplace in the future, as they can be summoned in direct or group conversations to quickly solve issues. For example, an employee could notify a repair bot of an equipment failure, which would in turn create an IT ticket or immediately attempt to find someone who could fix the issue.

Simon Cross, Workplace’s product manager, said that bots will “help people weave Workplace into their daily workflow,” and that developers have already created hundreds of powerful custom bots built to handle a wide variety of tasks, from streamlining tech support to organizing a food run.

Facebook Live is also making its way to Workplace — allowing colleagues to communicate from anywhere at anytime — and the company has doubled down on live-streaming by adding compatibility for professional audio and video equipment.

Finally, Facebook says it is shoring up Workplace’s cooperation with compliance and regulatory systems already in place at many businesses. These efforts should aid in securely exporting documents, especially in cases relating to legal proceedings, and ensuring that only the relevant parties receive pertinent information.

Many enterprises would scoff at new or unfamiliar productivity solutions that weren’t developed with these serious concerns in mind, and in recognizing that, Facebook has lent Workplace some much-needed credibility among professional clients.

According to Facebook, Workplace has already been put to use at more than 14,000 companies, including such Fortune 500 names as Starbucks, and currently boasts a combined 400,000 users.

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