Rob Koplowitz, vice president and principal analyst with research firm Forrester, says that although Facebook appears to be following Google's lead into the enterprise, it's not clear how far it intends to go. Facebook's current capabilities could, however, already compete with some popular enterprise social offerings including Yammer, Chatter, IBM Connections, Lync or Cisco Jabber, he says.
From a Forrester research note written by Koplowitz:
"Facebook certainly has a familiar user experience that people love, and could blur the lines between employees and customers in a compelling way. They have the ability to drive enterprises toward new levels of customer activation. It's not clear how far they would want go with an offering like this. To fully compete in the enterprise requires deep and complex capabilities that aren't required in a consumer offering. It can also be a tough, low margin business where cost of sales can be high."
Facebook's move into the enterprise could also bolster its overall value. By elevating the role of its platform to an enterprise level, Facebook could become much more relevant and gain an understanding of the traditional 9-to-5 workday. "It's a third of your day that they don't know what you do," says Patel. "It's starting to learn about another dimension of your life that they would have never known.".
If Facebook makes significant inroads in the enterprise it could become the purest example of the successful consumerization of IT to date. Despite its sagging interest among teens and younger users, Facebook remains the one place that ties the entire digital life together, according to Patel.
"Do we really fret about how many people use electricity? No we don't, but we can't do without it," Patel says. Whether or not Facebook becomes a utility of global importance, if it unlocks an opportunity of such scale in the enterprise, it could dramatically alter the ways people work and play in the social world.
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