Microsoft has partnered with Meta to integrate the latter's Workplace social network for business into the Teams collaboration platform. The combination will let corporate employees access Workplace's community-building features without leaving Teams.
Customer requests from both companies sparked the product integration, launched this week, executives said. Companies seeking the feature include Vodafone and Flight Centre Travel Group.
"You have the power of Teams to broadcast [Workplace content], and the power of Workplace to distribute [information] in a very consumer-friendly way," said Karandeep Anand, vice president of business products at Meta, formerly called Facebook.
In a joint video with Anand, Microsoft vice president Jeff Teper said the company recognizes that customers will use multiple communication tools. Therefore, it's Microsoft's responsibility to make Teams interoperable with other products.
ZK Research founder Zeus Kerravala said Microsoft has positioned Teams as a platform but has been slow to integrate it with competitors in the collaboration market.
"Microsoft does realize that most businesses will use multiple collaboration tools, so it chooses to integrate with ones that do not have much customer overlap," he said. "Microsoft is showing it's open, but it could really be doing so much more here."
Initially, people will see Workplace content within Teams, keeping them up to date on corporate events and announcements. Early next year, companies will have the option of streaming Teams meetings and webinars into Workplace and providing access to recordings of previous events.
Workplace is like the Facebook consumer social network. For example, both have newsfeeds that people use to receive information from others and post comments. The similarities make Workplace more intuitive for the many Facebook users than collaboration software like Teams and Slack, said Constellation Research analyst Dion Hinchcliffe.
Nevertheless, Meta has more to gain from the partnership, he said. Teams has 250 million monthly users to Workplace's 7 million paid subscribers, so the latter gets an entry point into a massive network of potential customers.
"Teams is being used more and more as the center of work for organizations," Hinchcliffe said. "Meta [Workplace] has to be seen as fitting right in with it, or risk customer defections."
Microsoft and Meta have worked together before. Workplace already integrates with Microsoft's SharePoint, OneDrive and Office 365 products. The companies will also make Teams available on Meta's Portal video-calling devices next month.
The relationship between the companies could lead to more collaboration, particularly in the market for virtual reality technology, IDC analyst Wayne Kurtzman said. Both companies have VR software and hardware destined to evolve into tools for the metaverse, which proponents believe is the next iteration of the internet.
"Both Microsoft and Meta are … leaning heavily into the metaverse, and there is room for a lot of innovative partnerships [there]," he said.
Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.