Social networking platforms have dramatically changed the way we communicate. The next wave is here in enterprise social networks to help employees, partners, buyers/sellers and other stakeholders collaborate in real-time, brainstorm, mitigate fears and get quick responses.
A few office networking apps are already available like Workplace from Facebook, Slack, Amazon Chime, Cisco Spark, Yammer and others.
Upping the ante, Microsoft has brought in 'Kaizala' (for free) and 'Kaizala Pro' (for Rs 130 per user) -- mobile-first products to help businesses connect with people inside and outside the organisations, easily coordinate tasks across the value chain and gain actionable insights.
How is 'Kaizala' is different from the rest?
"If you look at the diversity of capabilities that are possible in 'Kaizala', it's way ahead. It is a social conversation tool, a data activation tool, an analytics platform, a product that allows for user-management, is extendable and works on slow 2G networks," Alok Lall, Director, Microsoft Office Division, Microsoft India, told IANS.
"Given its diversity, it will actually be unfair to compare it with products that offer single or less capabilities," Lall added.
'Kaizala' comes at a time when businesses and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are becoming more dispersed in the country and connecting with teams and partners gets equally crucial especially in areas with poor Internet connectivity.
As a pilot, 'Kaizala' has seen significant adoption among YES Bank, Apollo Telemedicine, United Phosphorous Limited and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, among others.
At the government level, more than 30 departments with over 70,000 workers in the Andhra Pradesh government are using 'Kaizala' for real-time governance and day-to-day work.
According to NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, the economic advisory body is an early adapter of the "safe, secure, mobile-first [Kaizala] App".
"Niti Aayog works with a much larger base that spans across states and departments. Clearly, they saw this as an application that helps them get the pulse of what they need to know for the policies that they are making," Lall noted.
'Kaizala' will also be part of Niti Aayog's 'Atal Innovation Mission' that aims to foster innovation and encourage entrepreneurship across schools in the country.
"'Kaizala' is for those who are mobile-first. With smartphones, it is easy for small businesses to plan in real-time and become more productive. Currently, a lot of time is wasted in getting the information and then thinking what to do with that information. It really drains productivity," Lall told IANS.
The genesis of 'Kaizala' lies in the fact that when it comes to retrieving and processing information, several businesses still lag behind. On top of it, poor Internet connectivity hinders the flow of information.
"'Kaizala' is born to connect such businesses with the modern workplace. It is designed to allow for information to be shared in a seamless, two-way process," Lall said.
'Kaizala' is also GST compliant. According to Srikanth Cheruku, Founder and CEO of IDOS, most SMEs are not good at adopting new technology fast.
"The important thing in the GST regime is that everything goes online. So when 'Kaizala' came up, we felt there is a huge opportunity to make a simple application which people who are outside of the GST net like several small businesses can use it with ease," Cheruku told IANS.
IDOS is the first cloud accounting and compliance software in India and has been providing the SMEs with simple-to-use, yet powerful, accounting, compliance and financial management applications.
"With 'Kaizala,' SMEs don't have to go for a large technology adoption. Within the app, just accept the purchase order and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software will automatically take inputs and generate a GST-ready invoice seamlessly," Cheruku added.
Going forward, Microsoft India is looking at working with more state governments, enterprises and SMEs to create a larger 'Kaizala' community.
"We would love to work with industry associations and clusters for a wider reach, We would encourage new use cases to come up and help build them either ourselves or through our partner ecosystem," Lall emphasised.
'Kaizala Pro' has additional features that include user and group management, system integration and automation using 'Kaizala' APIs (application programme interfaces), advanced reporting and analytics, ability to publish custom actions, create public groups and organisational profile and directory.
(Nishant Arora can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)