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(Original link: zdnet.com)
How Facebook Portal and Workplace are being used by SMBs to connect with customers and employees 18:12 Watch Now CXO ZDNet's top enterprise CEOs of the 2010s Executive dies, taking investor cryptocurrency with him. Now they want the body exhumed What is a CIO? Everything you need to know about the Chief Information Officer explained How machine learning is predicting employee turnover (ZDNet YouTube) Ring CEO defends police partnerships (CNET) How to overcome procrastination: A CXO guide (TechRepublic) Dan Patterson, senior producer for CNET and CBS News, talked with Micah Collins of Facebook about how Facebook Portal is now being used in small- and medium-sized businesses. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Micah Collins: Portal is a product line, and we have multiple screen sizes, and one that turns your existing television into a portal itself. We call that product Portal TV. Portal TV was designed to help people connect with each other and connect with the closest people in their lives from the comfort of their home. What sets Portal hardware apart are, one, we have fairly large vivid displays but like a camera that is designed to really make it simpler, and more immersive, and natural to connect with people. So we call that our smart camera. All our portals have very wide fields of view, and we have a cameraman technology built on (artificial intelligence) AI that can keep up with users as they move around their environments, so that there isn't the normal video calling friction of like aiming phones, and tilting tablets and that sort of thing.
SEE: Small Business TV - Video Series (ZDNet)
And getting some of that calling friction out of the way really helps people focus on the conversation instead of the technology they're using. And so the net effect is, people feel like their calls are more rewarding, and simpler, and more enjoyable with the people-connection side. And this is what it's all been about for Facebook through the years is really just connecting people and making that as simple as possible. And with Portal, we're able to do that between family and friends. And yeah, it's been an incredible time.
Recently, of course, as we all are living through the context of social distancing and a greater sense of isolation, that really goes towards the core need that Portal was designed for. It's really interesting and fascinating to see all the fresh interest in the product and incredible engagement per se.
Dan Patterson: Although we are all practicing social distancing, business still goes on. And I know that SMBs, specifically my local bookstore in Brooklyn, use the Portal to keep business running during the coronavirus health crisis. Can you tell me a little bit about how the device is being used by small and middle-market businesses to make sure that they are efficiently running, communicating, and keeping business going?
Micah Collins: We've seen that because it is such a simple way of communicating, that we saw some of this adoption even before this crisis. And I think what we're seeing now is people being more creative and trying to tap into new ways to keep their normal activities or refresh the way they normally conduct their business. We have a few ways of doing this.
One of the things that we launched in the fall was something called Workplace for Portal. And Workplace is a service from Facebook for businesses. It's basically Facebook for business. It has a lot of the features and functionality that people are familiar with using on Facebook to create groups, and have chat, and messaging, and video calling. And through Portal, businesses that use Workplace are able to use Workplace on Portal to have their meetings, and meet with their teams, and have group calls.
And that's been seeing a lot of growth, especially at Facebook, where we use it quite like superusers on the latest and greatest development builds of software as well. So, that's an area that we're continuing to see some high growth impact, just for connecting for meetings with your distributed teams.
The other usages, of course, Portal at its core is powered by some of Facebook's core calling services. With Facebook Messenger support and WhatsApp support, we're supporting communications networks that have users in the billions. And so what we're finding is that Portal itself is being used through people's personal accounts to just connect with colleagues and, potentially, business partners.
Portal also supports Facebook Live. And so, people are also using it as a way of connecting with their communities. And we're investing in all of these kind of connection modalities to continue to make Portal relevant and flexible for people to apply in their own way.
Dan Patterson: To that point, kind of this blending of business and consumer services with one product line that interoperates with the number of communication services that Facebook runs, what have you seen in terms of adoption during the coronavirus h...