New Delhi: Collaboration and chat applications have tried to crack the Indian enterprises market for a while. But while apps, such as Slack and Facebook’s Workplace, are designed as workplace services, a large part of the country’s workforce doesn’t have emails to begin with. This makes WhatsApp a better collaboration tool for them.

Kaizala, Microsoft’s chat app for enterprises, aims at capitalising on these users. According to Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India: “Kaizala was fundamentally designed for someone who may not have an email identity and, therefore, is leading with a mobile number as an identity. And, when you have a mobile number as your primary, if not the only identity, you have to do things very differently."

Unlike other workplace collaboration apps, this aspect makes Kaizala similar to the Chinese WeChat or Facebook-owned WhatsApp. The app offers free WiFi messaging and audio and video calls, a feature Microsoft just added.

The company says it is being used by 1,000 organizations in India already, including public sector units, banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), education and retail sectors.

However, experts say that Microsoft could have a tough time acquiring paid customers. Maheshwari said that Kaizala is already instrumental in the healthcare sector, with one of the early adopters being Bengaluru-based Narayana Health chain of hospitals. According to founder and chairman Dr. Devi Shetty, “Microsoft Kaizala serves as an Electronic Medical Record, with no attendant cost, and the patient’s data is shared across the group of treating doctors and nurses. All group members monitor a patient’s treatment and make interventions in real time."

What remains to be seen is the adoption rate of Kaizala among enterprises? Besides, it may also face issues around security and privacy, as experts say that securing an app with third-party software like AirWatch and MobileIron may prove to be expensive and will mean additional costs for the client.

Maheshwari, however, claims that a big advantage of Kaizala is related to data privacy and security. “Microsoft helps carry and process the data, but the owner of the data is the user organization and this is very different from other chat apps where the data resides on your personal cloud or personal on premises mobile phone."

So will Kaizala boost productivity? Maybe, if the technology giant adopts a different approach to drive its growth.


Workplace collaboration tools for the enterprise

G-Suite: (including Gmail, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Contacts, and Google Forms): Like Microsoft’s Office 365, Google’s G-Suite provides everything from email to chat as well.

Slack: While Slack doesn’t have direct email, it allows teams to collaborate for projects, share files etc.

Workplace by Facebook: A platform that tries to bring the Facebook’s social media experience into a workplace.

Zoho Workplace: Zoho’s Workplace suite of apps have competed with Microsoft, Google etc. And it does include a chat app.

Flock: Messaging and collaboration tool for Windows, Mac, Web and mobile.