Microsoft launches ‘Kaizala’ in Kenya – a mobile app for large, secure group communications
Mobile technology is enabling businesses in Africa to embrace the fourth industrial revolution and digitally transform their operations. Deeply aligned to a digital Africa, Microsoft has launched Kaizala, a mobile app designed for large group communication, work management, reporting and analytics, integrated with Office 365.
Sebuh Haileleul, Country General Manager for Microsoft East and Southern Africa, says the app addresses several challenges faced by most businesses in Africa who manage field staff remotely.
“Task workers working on construction sites, or in manufacturing plants, retail shops and other industries, typically don’t have a dedicated work space, computer or even email address. As a result, they generally use pen and paper, or unsecure consumer-messaging apps on their personal phones for work-related communications. This makes it hard for managers to share and collect important information. Kaizala makes it easier and less time consuming for organisations to communicate, assign and track work in real-time, and create reports based on aggregated data.”
Businesses using Kaizala are able to connect with large groups of people across their entire value chain, wherever they are, all on a single platform on their mobile phone.
Unlike other chat-based apps in the market, Kaizala extends beyond a communication function, enhancing business agility, collaboration and organisational productivity. Some of its unique features include the ability to:
1. Communicate with and manage an unlimited number of users, including employees, front-line workers, customers, suppliers and citizens. Organisations can create flat, hierarchical or discoverable public groups in minutes from contact lists, organisation directories or adhoc sharing. For users in remote areas, the app is optimised to work even on slow 2G networks. Users do not need an email address to sign up, only a mobile number.
2. Broadcast and collect information in a structured way through action cards. This includes sharing announcements, photos, videos or documents; hosting polls or surveys; assigning tasks; providing training content; marking geo-fenced attendance; and tracking workforces using hyperlocal location tracking.
3. Gather rich insights from data with built-in analytics. Organisations can view results in real-time as they come in, organise large amounts of information with an aggregated view of user responses, and get reports at each level of the organisation.
4. Have full ownership and control over the data, insights and information. Managers can decide who has access to company data, which is all protected by encryption in-transit and at-rest. All Kaizala data is stored in Microsoft Azure datacenters, which adhere to industry standard security and compliance certifications.
“Using Microsoft Kaizala, organisations can connect with their employees and the extended value chain. The product offers a simple and familiar chat interface, but goes beyond to make everyone more productive using Surveys, Polls, Jobs, Meetings and other actions, right in your chat. As we launch Microsoft Kaizala in Kenya, we hope to help connect the complete value chain, including even the unconnected parts of organisations – from small businesses to large enterprises and governments who wants to connect with their citizens. Microsoft Kaizala’s vision is to empower every organisation and community to achieve more through purposeful chat,” added Rajiv Kumar, Corporate Vice President, Office Product Group, Microsoft.
The app was officially being launched in Kenya on Friday, following a soft launch in the country in February 2017, where users were encouraged to review and provide feedback on the service.
During the soft launch, Unilever collaborated with Microsoft’s 4Afrika and Kaizala teams to pilot the app in its Nairobi factory, exploring the potential of going digital in their factories. Based on their team’s experience, which saw improved staff engagement levels and reporting, Unilever is currently exploring other uses of Kaizala in its extended supply chain as a workforce management tool.
M-KOPA Solar also piloted the app with 700 of their distributed sales force in Kenya, using it to communicate, provide remote training modules, and collect real-time sales data and location information.