This is a guest contribution by Suzie Robinson.
In my previous post I gave an overview of Kaizala’s functionality and since then I’ve been considering how Kaizala might fit alongside the variety of other digital workplace tools out there.
I think a lot of people see Kaizala covering the same ground as other software, even replicating functionality of other Microsoft apps, but I think there’s a place for Kaizala.
Comparisons to other digital workplace tools, such as MS Teams or Slack, are often limited and unfair. Yes, there are elements of Kaizala that are covered chat apps, but Kaizala isn’t intended to replace those systems for the people who already use them; Kaizala is designed for people who don’t use the usual digital workplace tools or find them difficult. These people are probably using shadow IT, WhatsApp for example.
How people could use the Kaizala mobile app
Kaizala can be downloaded for free by anyone. It’s not restricted to your organisation’s Office 365 estate, it’s literally available to everyone. This simplicity is incredibly liberating for individuals (and a crucial reason why IT and Communication teams need to know about Kaizala’s existence and use).
Kaizala doesn’t need an enterprise software licence, nor an official Office 365 email address, to just work for individuals. Your organisation will need a licence once you want people to get involved with official Kaizala groups and so that you can take advantage of identity management and administration functions. Kaizala management is / will be included in Office 365 for business plans (depending on your country).
I feel adoption levels could be very high for the right people, because:
- Conversation is the primary purpose
- The ‘Actions’ functions are very practical (see previous article)
- Designed for mobile users
- People’s data can be kept private.
Where people work on a desktop / laptop, I think that other, existing, tools will probably continue to be more appropriate and beneficial. However, for field and remote workers, Kaizala could be a good solution. For example:
Physically remote workers — including home visiting medical professionals, people in social services, school lunch supervisors, retail workers, etc. They are unlikely to have a full O365 account and may not be interested in the intranet, favouring asking managers questions and sticking to contacting people they know.
Those in an office space but not at a desk — including building maintenance, trainers, teachers, security guards etc. They may dip into the digital environment but have to play catch-up at the start or end of the day, so wading through different posts in MS Teams might feel like too much hard work.
People at a desk but tied to specific software — including customer service agents and third-party contractors. They will be deliberately shut out of some software but be heavy users of others, especially those tied into the systems they use frequently (chat in Salesforce, for example).
The basics of Kaizala (i.e. its mobile-first approach and similarity to WhatsApp) will be a big benefit to each of these groups, as they can communicate between themselves. The ‘Actions’ functions could also be tailored to help them to do their jobs more effectively too. What’s particularly useful the organisation / communications team is how Kaizala can facilitate engagement with these somewhat hard-to-reach groups of people. Kaizala can reach people with pulse surveys, mini training sessions, concise announcements.
Four reasons Kaizala could work for you
For clarity, I’ll pull out the four major reasons Kaizala could work well within your organisation, and more importantly, work well for users:
1. It’s all about private, rather than public, conversations (think, WhatsApp vs Yammer).
2. It’s very practical – Individuals can immediately download the app and log in with just their phone number and will likely see how it’s appropriate for their personal phone (just like WhatsApp). No waiting for a broader enterprise roll-out. Plus ‘Actions’ provide real flexibility with how Kaizala is used, guiding individuals to use it for business purposes in a seamless way.
3. It can work with the public / people outside your organisation – Customers who already use the Kaizala app (or whom are willing to get it) can be reached via, what is intriguingly, a fully GDPR compliant channel. If you provide a contracted service for a client, or even need to discuss a sensitive information (contractual, personnel, or even patient details) with other professionals, then Kaizala’s groups (using a code or email to gain access) gives you a managed facility. I think data retention processes will need to be affirmed and understood by your Data Protection Officer though.
4. It’s familiar – It’s WhatsApp with a few extras, not a vast intranet with megamenus and lots of words.
The WhatsApp comparison
Over 1.5 billion people actively used WhatsApp across 180 countries during 2018. I’m one of those users and I’ve been thinking about why I use it so frequently. It’s free, easy to use, and doesn’t have any adverts. I can share small bits of information with a group or have long conversations with individuals, knowing that my message has been sent and when someone has read it.
While often thrown into the mix with other social media tools, WhatsApp is different. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – they’re all about broadcasting a thought or moment to a mix of friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers. They can keep people up-to-date on what’s happening in your life, and spark two-way conversations, but they are mostly used for sharing to a mass of people.
WhatsApp, or indeed any other chat / messaging system, by comparison is a conversation between individuals, or smaller scale groups of known people. This is likely to be friends, family, and colleagues, and it is in a more intimate setting where you can be more open, honest, and yourself. It also allows for more practicality; you may say that you’re going to an event on Facebook, but you’ll likely co-ordinate plans via private messaging.
Kaizala therefore is to MS Teams, Yammer, Slack etc. as WhatsApp is to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. It isn’t designed to replace enterprise messaging apps, but to complement them and give a practical communication tool to those employees who may not use anything else.
There are a lot of tools already out there that will deliver what Kaizala is offering. I don’t think this is down to a technology decision though: it’s people’s behaviour that will dictate whether Kaizala is needed. If an intranet just isn’t wanted by your users, if MS Teams is too flash, if a chatbot makes them go cold, but they just keep using WhatsApp, then a natural next step could be Kaizala.
I should stress that I’m not sure Kaizala is necessary in a business that has a fully established digital workplace that’s working well for field, retail, and/or remote workers. Talking with the public might be an appealing aspect and unique use-case that you could explore of course, but as an internal tool you probably do have other things that work as well or better. But you might have hard-to-reach groups of people, like retail, sales, customer services, or field engineers that may well recognise Kaizala as a WhatsApp replacement for teammates (and even friends).
These groups of people might want a low-bandwidth solution (both technically speaking [3G] and cognitively) and you might want a light way to engage such groups owing to restrictions imposed by a union, for example. Kaizala gives the user control, allowing them to talk with people in a familiar way (like WhatsApp) and also do work tasks.
See Suzie’s previous article about Kaizala, with lots of screenshots.
Suzie has been an intranet practitioner since about 2007, and an intranerd for probably the same amount of time. She works for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group looking after their content and governance, but you may see her at a conference or two throughout the year (either on, or off, stage).