Facebook reportedly developing zone for professionals

Social networking giant Facebook is looking to get into the business networking and collaboration game, according to unnamed sources in an FT report. It would apparently take the form of a dedicated zone, called ‘Facebook at Work’, that would have familiar Facebook functionality, but shield your work contacts from any frivolous content posted in the personal section.

Many people already mix their personal and professional networks on Facebook, but it’s likely that most use Facebook for personal interactions (if at all) and LinkedIn for business networking. Facebook also has an instant messaging client, but apps like Microsoft’s Lync and Skype are often preferred for business communications, while Microsoft competes with the likes of Google and Cisco when it comes to remote collaboration.

The report reckons Facebook has been working on this for a year and that the formal launch is approaching. The key seems to be convincing existing Facebook users that they can develop a parallel professional network without fear of revealing their private thoughts and actions to them, while at the same time convincing users of other business comms networks that the new Facebook offering is at least as secure and reliable as what they currently use.

The mobile productivity battle is still very much unresolved. Microsoft seems to have finally realised that its main hope of making money from mobile will not come from OS licenses but from cross-platform software and services, while Google and Apple have the advantage of being the dominant mobile platform providers. Facebook recently made it clear that it thinks telco vs. OTT is a false dichotomy and it is now courting the telco sector in its bid to take on the mobile giants.

But this is just the latest in a long line of attempts by tech giants to grow outside of their core competence. Facebook is presumably still laughing at Google’s attempt to get into social networking, while Microsoft is still struggling to diversify beyond its PC core. Productivity is not the first thing people associate with Facebook, quite the opposite in fact, and it won’t be easy to change that.

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