Microsoft Kaizala gets global launch, will integrate with Teams

Microsoft Teams
(Image: Microsoft)

Mobile messaging app for business is now available to Office 365 commercial customers

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5 April 2019 | 0

Two years after it first appeared, Microsoft’s mobile messaging app Kaizala is now available to all Office 365 users globally. Microsoft will integrate the app with its Teams collaboration platform in the next 12-18 months, the company said in a blog post on Thursday, as part of its larger plans to appeal to ‘first-line’ workers such as retail, healthcare and service staffers.

Kaizala was launched in 2017 for customers in India, with the Pro version subsequently made available for commercial Office 365 subscriptions in 28 countries.

As of today, Kaizala is available to Office 365 customers globally in 40 languages and 180 markets.

 

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What is Microsoft Kaizala?

Kaizala supports group text messaging as well as video and audio calls, much like consumer messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

With its business focus, Kaizala has security and administrative features that consumer-focused tools tend to lack. With Kaizala, data is encrypted at rest and in transit, and the Kaizala management portal lets admins create and manage groups, for example, as well as define group policies. This is important, as the use of consumer apps in the workplace can be a significant challenge for large organisations that want to retain control of sensitive data.

Users don’t need a Microsoft account to access Kaizala but can sign up with their phone number. This ‘open directory’ approach makes it easier for temporary employees and contractors to access the service.

How Kaizala fits with Teams

Microsoft’s wider rollout of Kaizala follows recent updates
to Teams, Microsoft’s collaboration and communication tool, in a bid to
win over first-line workers with new mobile app functions.

Kaizala differs from the Teams mobile app in a number of ways, and
it’s aimed more at temporary workers and contractors, said Lori Wright,
general manager of workplace collaboration at Microsoft.

“Kaizala serves as a complement to Teams,” she said. She explained that Teams works well for employees who are authorized on Microsoft Active Directory or have a Microsoft Account (MSA). “For more transient workers that you don’t want to bring in and out of the corporate hierarchy and the directory, you can use Kaizala.”

Wright gave the example of a ski resort – the type of business that often has a high employee turnover of around 50%. Employees who are in charge of managing the resort on a permanent basis are suited to Teams. However, there will also be many transient workers who join for a single season that lasts a few weeks or months. This is where Kaizala comes in, she said.

Wright also said there are numerous examples of organisations using Teams and Kaizala in tandem already, including several airline operators. In these cases, Teams is relied on for day to day management, while Kaizala is used by service staff that bring food onto the plane, for example.

Microsoft said in its blog post that it will bring Kaizala capabilities into Microsoft Teams as an ‘integrated offering,’ a process that will occur over the 12-18 months. More details on the integration roadmap will appear later this quarter.

He added that there are also advantages in having a single platform
that covers all groups of employees, while providing the same security
standards and access to business resources.

Kaizala roadmap

Alongside Kaizala’s wider availability, new features were announced too.

This includes @mentions to tag individual members in a group conversation, image annotation, and the ability to delete messages within an hour of sending them. There is also a ‘Kaizala me’ private chat space feature that lets users send themselves messages such as meeting notes or reminders.

A Kaizala web app – currently in public preview, with general availability later this quarter – lets managers and admins access and search chat, send documents and more from a PC or laptop.

New group and data management features include an updated Kaizala
Management Portal that now supports single-sign on for Office 365 users,
and in-region data residency for storage of customer data.

Other Kaizala roadmap features expected to launch in the coming months include Azure Active Directory sync within Kaizala, e-mail invites for new users, and the ability to assign dedicated admins to manage Kaizala policies.

IDG News Service

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