Social Media Unified Communications (UC) – The Next Move for Business?

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Imagine the office and all of its intricate and often sensitive communications done on a single unified platform known as Facebook? The truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, now that Facebook has unveiled the just-out-of-beta version of Workplace by Facebook. The Mark Zuckerberg owned, a $49-billion-dollar company, has set its sights on big business and looks to scale up for corporate use.

What can a social network do for enterprise collaboration? Firstly, it extends the personal experience of Facebook that over one and a half billion people are currently tuned to and suggests that if this is how people communicate every day, why shouldn’t the workplace capitalize on that fact? Secondly, it offers another choice for collaboration that millennials and young workers are (essentially) experts in using, removing any learning curves and lowering the barrier to entry (similar to how Microsoft leveraged Skype usage to launch Skype for Business in the enterprise). Right out the box, workers can collaborate quickly, and productivity can see instantaneous increases. Finally, it moves a communications platform into an entirely different realm, repurposing it in a way that was unintended that extends its life in a world of disposable entertainment to provide value for the enterprise.

  • Voice, Video & Instant Messaging (IM) — Modern workers, particularly millennials, have shown a preference for communicating in a seamless transition between voice, video and IM. It is a known fact that synchronous and real-time communication used in this way enhances productivity. Emails are going by the wayside in favor of these nimbler forms of collaboration. Collaboration tools that work in similar ways to what people typically use plays out well for platforms that mimic these common methods. Cisco Jabber is one such platform that offers employees seamless transitions between modalities.
  • Vulnerabilities Do Exist — When the enterprise considers a platform such as Workplace by Facebook, IT must find the known vulnerabilities and unknown variants that may come into play such as unintentional sharing of private information, unauthorized collaborations, viral threats and more. The IT managers could be in for a bumpy ride if faced with security issues and a lack of support—have you ever tried finding support or an actual person to speak with on Facebook? Security and support are two intertwined vulnerabilities that the enterprise must address before it can safely assume usage of such a product. Skype had the ability to add any user from anywhere, whereas Skype for Business needed to beef up security to thwart risks to the enterprise from that capability for easy access.

Big business is smart to keep adding products that offer a better user experience. The more familiar it is, the better adopted any UC solution implemented will be. Looking at some of the most widely adopted social media tools is insightful and demonstrates a willingness by the enterprise to retool the workplace for the worker. In that sense, consumerization of social networking for business shows no signs of stopping. In actuality, the converse is probably truer, that it’s only just begun.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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