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Facebook keeps pushing forward with its competitor to Slack and Atlassian -- here's what's new

TECHONOMY 2016
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has added new partners and features to the enterprise version of its social network called Facebook Workplace.

Facebook's product now works with work applications from enterprise tech companies including Microsoft, Box, and Salesforce.

This makes it possible to share documents and information all without leaving Facebook, said Facebook Workplace Product Manager Simon Cross. For example, a worker can now share a slide deck with their team's Facebook group to solicit feedback, he said.

"My team can go in and look at every individual slide and give me comments and feedback on every individual slide or page," he said.

Facebook Workplace now has 14,000 organizations signed up and those organizations have created more than 400,000 groups. Workplace collaboration and communication is an increasingly crowded market, with companies like Microsoft, Slack and Atlassian offering similar services.

But Facebook is aiming for businesses, like retail chains, that aren't well served by these existing solutions. "I don't think we have any competitors," said Julien Codorniou, Facebook's vice president of Workplace told CNBC. "The competition is old technologies."

When companies join Workplace they usually shut down old communication systems, said Codorniou. For example, news letters, mailing lists, intranet sites that no one was really using and aren't mobile friendly and legacy Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calling systems, he said.

"What we end up competing with is pieces of paper pinned to the break-room wall," added Cross.

An upgraded Facebook Live experience now allows companies to live stream to groups of employees in high definition and to switch between multiple cameras powered by technology built by software company BlueJeans. It's popular with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, said Cross.

Facebook is also seeing customers start using Workplace for critical business functions, like reporting low stock and discussing issues with their supply chain or website, said Cross.

To that end, Facebook is now allowing its customers to build bots to allow them to connect the critical tools they already use, said Cross. The bots can be built into chats, on top of Facebook Messenger technology, or integrated into groups, a newly created feature, said Cross.

For instance, an IT helpdesk might set up a group for people to ask questions and then a bot to export a conversation — like when a user posts a problem with a laptop — into their own ticketing system where they manage tasks, said Cross.

"It's a really very simple but powerful way to go from discussion to action," he said. "The cool thing about that is that the bot has copied all of the context for that ticket it needed over from the post."

Facebook has also removed some adoption roadblocks for more highly regulated companies by adding partners in the field of compliance, security and electronic discovery services. This will help customers comply with legal requirements and manage risks, he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story named as a Workplace partner a company that in fact does not have a partnership deal with Facebook.