Using Facebook in the office just got a lot more productive.

On Tuesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in London, the social media giant announced the launch of its Custom Integrations platform for Workplace (formerly called Facebook at Work), which launched in October. The new platform allows companies to integrate third-party software as a service (SaaS) and customer relationship management apps.

Workplace's original features included groups, posting updates (photos, videos, live streams), and live discussions (audio, video calls, live chats). The new platform doesn't offer a suite of apps to choose from; instead, companies will have to create custom solutions for apps like Google Calendar and Salesforce.

The move could help boost Facebook against rivals Microsoft and Slack in the work-apps race. Microsoft's newly launched Teams integrates chat and Microsoft 365 programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with third-party applications such as Twitter, Outlook, SharePoint, and Yammer. Similarly, Slack offers an app store of enterprise solutions.

Facebook's 1.7 billion users, compared with Slack's 1.25 million paid customers, gives it a head start in terms of user base. However, getting those users to perform professional tasks on its platform will be a challenge. Companies with fewer than 1,000 users pay $3 per user per month for Workplace. The next pricing tier is $2 for up to 10,000 users. Larger companies with more than 10,000 users pay a monthly price of $1 per user.

Meanwhile, Slack plans to unveil in the first quarter of 2017 a new offering aimed at scaling its platform for use within very large organizations. That means Facebook will have to keep playing catch-up.

Published on: Dec 7, 2016