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PHOTO: Matt Popovich

Workday announced a partnership with San Francisco-based Slack this week, and is also “actively partnering” with Google, Microsoft and Facebook. The Slack partnership will give Slack users access to Workday from inside the Slack interface. Workday is a Pleasanton, Calif.-based on-demand financial management and human capital management software vendor. As a result of the partnership, workers will have access to co-worker information, give employees feedback or request time off without having to leave Slack. 

In a blog post about the partnership, Joe Korngiebel, wrote that the integration of Workday and Slack will be a game changer in terms of empowering employees. Employees will be able to engage with HR in a way they haven’t been able to before. The integration will allow them to resolve many of their questions and issues without requiring a move into another application. It’s also a response to what he believes is a tipping point for enterprises. “We’re at an inflection point in enterprise software,” he wrote. “The way we work is undergoing a profound change, driven by the increasing rise of messaging over email, a move toward best-of-breed solutions, and a change in cultural work norms.”

And in other digital workplace news ...

Atlassian Hits Its Stride

Sydney-based Atlassian launched Stride last September. Stride is the collaboration software provider's response to the rise of Slack, Microsoft Teams and even the recent release of the new Google Hangout Chat, G Suite’s "messaging platform built for teams." Atlassian has now made Stride generally available (GA). The GA version offers unlimited users, chat rooms, direct messaging and more, as well as integration with collaboration tools and an option to silence notifications and activities in Focus Mode. It also comes with built-in voice and video conferencing

The company offered no numbers on how many people used Stride in beta, but the full version comes with new additions that should interest users. Over the last few months, Atlassian has worked with early adopters as they moved their workplace communications to Stride. Atlassian used their feedback to introduce over 60 new features and improvements including:

  • Conversations with customizable options like drag-and-drop sorting, alphabetical sorting and starring.
  • Improved search functionality that offers faster and smarter search across Stride.
  • Meetings enhancements that make it easier to connect face-to-face with team mates.
  • Focus Mode mutes all your notifications and incoming messages and lets everyone know that you're diving into deep work.

This is only the beginning for Stride and there is a long roadmap ahead with more enhancements on the way. Atlassian also opened the API to outside developers, so we can expect more third-party apps on the way. With the general availability release, Stride is ready for full enterprise deployment.

Umuse Pulls Chat, Email Together

Austin-based Umuse announced the beta application of its new workplace communication tool, which combines email and chat in a single message feed.

Founded by former Spiceworks founder and CEO, Scott Abel, the company also announced $5 million in seed funding to test and develop the concept and bring it to market.

The release aims to address the issue of context shift in the modern workplace. The typical business user now juggles three to four communication applications and 100s of messages per day, forcing them to continually shift from one tool to another, which translates into frustration, distraction and loss of productivity. Umuse aims to address this problem, so users can spend less time managing their communication and more time communicating.

The Umuse application combines email with the speed of chat, prioritized in a single, Facebook-like message feed. Instead of creating yet another communication channel, Umuse works seamlessly with existing services such as Gmail and Slack.

Wiretap Partners With Workplace By Facebook

Workplace by Facebook named Columbus, Ohio-based employee monitoring solution provider Wiretap a development partner in a move which brings the company's flagship Aware by Wiretap tool to Workplace users. Aware gives businesses the ability to monitor public and private content, providing visibility into employee sentiment, helping ensure compliance with policies, as well as potentially preventing exposure of high-risk files. 

The partnership also gives Workplace users access to Feedfall, Wiretap's digital signage solution, which helps customer project selected content on company dashboards and other displays.

Mozilla Prevents Facebook Data Harvesting

In the wake of the UK-based Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, organizations and privacy activists have issued numerous calls urging users to walk away from Facebook. The calls are likely to get louder after reports emerged that Facebook was also scraping information from telephone calls from Android phones, a claim Facebook has insisted is unjustified as users gave consent to access the information. 

In a blog post about the practice, Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook denied it was taking the content from the calls and insisted it never sells the data to other parties. Whatever the case may be, it will be difficult for companies that have worked Facebook into their digital workplaces to simply walk away.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Mozilla, maker of the popular Firefox browser, has seized the moment to release a new add-on that will effectively isolate Facebook from the rest of a user’s web activity. In a post about Facebook Container, Nick Nguyen, vice president of Firefox product at Mozilla, explained Container isolates your Facebook identity from the rest of your web activity. When users install it, they can continue to use Facebook normally. Facebook can continue to deliver its service and display advertising. The difference is it will be much harder for Facebook to use your activity collected during activity off of Facebook to send you ads and other targeted messages.

Nguyen warns however, this is not a panacea for all privacy issues, but it does make using Facebook a lot safer. It gives users tools to help them protect themselves from the unexpected side effects of their usage. The type of data in the recent Cambridge Analytica incident would not have been prevented by Facebook Container, Nguyen explains. However, “troves of data are being collected on your behavior on the internet, and so giving users a choice to limit what they share in a way that is under their control is important.”

He also points out that Facebook is not unique in gathering information about users. Instead, he writes, Mozilla’s goal is not to single out an organization, but to start with a well-defined problem that it can solve quickly.

What the add-on does do, though, is that it gives users a little bit more confidence in a tool that has become an important part of the digital workplace. When users install this extension, it will delete Facebook cookies and log the user out of Facebook. The next time the user visits Facebook, it will open in a new blue-colored browser tab (a.k.a. “container tab”). All non-Facebook websites will load outside of the container.

Other tools provide similar capabilities, including ad blockers like the one recently introduced into Chrome. Over the coming weeks we are likely to see many more tools introduced aiming to do something similar. Given the outcry over the Facebook data harvesting, this is likely only the beginning of a long campaign to ensure privacy.