Workplace by Facebook Goes Public

After several months behind the wheel of Facebook’s latest product offering, now called Workplace by Facebook, the first state government to pilot the tool is seeing big potential for social networking-themed tools in the public sector.

by , / October 11, 2016
Courtesy Facebook

When Facebook at Work began pilots over a year ago in various organizations, there was measured skepticism that the tool would be little more than another way for employees to waste valuable time with cat videos and gossip. But some months later, the new and renamed version of the tool, Workplace by Facebook, has gone public as of Oct. 10 — and one early public-sector adopter sees big potential. 

The platform is configured much like the traditional Facebook platform — feeds, notifications and messaging are intact as ever. But the difference is that it exists in a closed network, much like Microsoft Office 365.

Back in June, Arizona CIO Morgan Reed announced the state’s Department of Administration would  pilot the platform and said it carried many features that would not only make leadership more accessible, but is also a tool employees are inherently comfortable with. 

“Not only is it helping us communicate and break down the siloes of government within multiple agencies," he told Government Technology at the NASCIO Annual Conference in September, "but even within our own.”

As far as the potential for government, Reed said the Workplace platform and other social tools will remain an important way for government and the people it serves to connect.

“What we are hoping to do is find enterprise technologies and platforms that we can scale across the state," he said, "to take an example of an agency that is doing social well and see how we can do that statewide, and as the agencies need to have that interaction, be able to have a platform they can buy into."

Unlike the traditional social platform, Workplace does not curate advertising on its users' feeds, and data gathering is limited to information used to “provide and improve the services,” according to a source close to Facebook.

In addition to the host of fairly standard tools such as News Feed, the ability to create and share in Groups or via chat, search, and trending posts, the Workplace suite also offers analytics and presentation sharing features, and the ability to link with other companies or organizations through “multi-company groups,” which are similar to group pages on the traditional social media site.

As far as the state or sources speaking for the Menlo Park-based social media company were able to confirm, Arizona remains the only public-sector adopter of the technology, though it boasts more than 1,000 organizations using the platform worldwide.

And in Arizona, Reed says the state is hoping to find enterprise technologies and platforms that it can scale across the state. "To take examples of an agency that's doing social well and see how we can do that statewide," he said. "And as the agencies need to have that interaction, be able to have a platform they can buy into."

Eyragon Eidam Web Editor

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as  assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at eeidam@erepublic.com.

Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.