How do you future proof your new intranet?

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Planning a new social intranet? Are you making sure that it is mobile-first, personalised and bursting with useful, active content? Great! But be warned – the rate of change in social intranets and collaborative platforms just got faster.

Mark Zuckerberg has been busy this week presenting to the Facebook developer community at F8. the two-day event, now in its tenth year, which draws 4,000 to the San Jose Convention Center in California.

Two themes made the headlines – both of which have huge implications for the corporate communicator.  The first was the maturing of their enterprise platform Workplace by Facebook and the second was the launch of Augmented Reality apps on the consumer platform (of which more later).

Workplace will now play with your favourite apps

Facebook has taken another step towards wider acceptance of Workplace, their platform for enterprises which is already used by about 14,000 organisations. Clients include Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks who use the platform to broadcast weekly live videos from the CEO and for managers to check in with the 80% of all employees who use the platform for networking and collaboration.

But one major disadvantage of Workplace has been the disconnect between the files, documents and papers that you need to do your daily work and the social channel that Workplace provides. Well that is about to change. As of Tuesday, Workplace offers new file-sharing integrations, including Salesforce, Quip, and Box. Most significant was the announcement that Microsoft’s OneDrive and Office services are now integrated into Workplace.

workplace by facebookSo the path looks smoother towards convincing your boss to let colleagues use the well-known Facebook platform to form the backbone of a digital network. Product Manager Simon Cross describes how this new connectivity works in a video from F8. It’s an hour long but you can pick up his presentation around 25 minutes in. Basically it means you link and share directly inside Workplace to your One Drive, making it considerably easier to share your documents and files and to collaborate online with your colleagues.This is not just a link to your file – it’s a deep link, which means others can access the content, make revisions and get out again without it leaving your OneDrive. No downloads or opening other programs. It all happens within the browser.

Other goodies include rich preview of PowerPoint files. This allows users to look at slide decks and make changes inside the Workplace browser using deep links and all is automatically saved. You can also do the same kind of deep linking with other popular enterprise applications such as Box, Google G-Suite, Quip and Salesforce. According to Simon Cross:

“These integrations are available now, right today. Your admin can go in and switch it on right now. What we are trying to do is combine the best of these applications with the best of Workplace.”

Video streaming for professional crews

workplace go live

Another interesting development for the corporate communicator is Workplace Live which takes the live video function of Facebook and allows you to plug in your professional video team and all their equipment and mixers directly into the platform. This way you get all the benefits of a professionally produced video presentation live in high definition on the platform where everyone can watch without worrying about the costs of satellite links and OB trucks. And the videos remain on Workplace as a permanent video archive. So if you don’t fancy videoing your CEO with your handheld iPhone this is the solution for you.

Augmented reality in the Enterprise

Well done if you are using social tools like Workplace to bring your platform up to date. But the bad news is that such innovations may not be enough to see you through the next 5 years in the Wild West that is the digital workplace. What is driving change in enterprise comms is of course consumer gadgets and this week it looks as though the big players in social are about to render the smartphone obsolete.

Augmented reality – not to be confused with Virtual Reality which requires you to wear a 3D mask and look like a dork – overlays digital imagery onto the real world, like Snapchat’s camera filters. Used for fun now these features could have powerful applications in the business world. Imagine kicking of a meeting on a new project and having a new colleague’s work profile displayed onto the lens of your glasses.

According to Zuckerberg (and he should know), Facebook intends to harness the power of artificial intelligence, corporate-wide wi-fi, and virtual and augmented reality into an interface that will replace not just the laptop but the smartphone as well. His vision of the future is a lightweight pair of spectacles that will project imagery onto the view you are observing.  A sort of stylish version of Google Glass.

F8 conferenceNone of this is going to happen tomorrow – but it could be accepted consumer tech within a couple of years. And what people like in their domestic lives they tend to demand once they come to the office (and if they don’t get it they will bring their favourite pair of Facebook glasses to work anyway and add to the plethora of shadow IT).

And even glasses might be old hat in a few years according to Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s Building 8 division, which dreams up advanced hardware technologies.

“We have a goal of creating a system capable of typing 100 words per minute, five times faster than you can type on your smartphone, straight from your brain.”

by Marc Wright  


Join Workplace by Facebook Consultant Nick Crawford in his dedicated workshop at smileexpo17 on 23rd May in London.