When the world is using Facebook for social networking, China is using Renren or Kiaxin, when the world uses Google, China uses Baidu, Qihoo or Sogou. Similarly, when the enterprise sector has acceded to Slack, China has come up with its very own office chat application ‘Enterprise’ by WeChat or WeChat Enterprise. Though reports claim that it has not been given an official nickname, Tencent, WeChat’s parent company had informed the industry that this application will be a messenger aimed at office workers, will be available on both mobile and desktop, it will have business features and will be free of cost.
According to the website, the application is available on iOS, Android, OS X, and Windows but only in Chinese. The site also states three basic features upfront to the user, namely; unified enterprise contact that allow enterprises to import the address book and manage the colleague’s information and see to that it is accurate, perfect , and easy to find. It bonds the official scene of communication by integrating telephone, email, and other alerts to bring it to one single platform. And it has a secure background that runs a full encryption protocol to prevent network eavesdropping.
Calling this version 1.0, the app is aiming to replace group email and encourage group chats among colleagues. People familiar with Slack, will see that the app has a few similarities such as the ability to highlight when employees are on a break, group chats both voice and text, it has an array of emoticons and animates stickers, and also allows organizations to create features like leaves, automated forms, reimbursements, among others. Interestingly the employees can make calls using the app and the bill will be charged to the company.
Messages are saved in the cloud and are synced to the user’s devices on WeChat Enterprise, employees can send and receive voice, text, documents, media and other official communication, they can set reminders, to-do lists. The app acts as a platform for the organization to announce critical or important information at one go. It also has a do-not-disturb mode and a method by which one can mark attendance.
People are calling it the ‘Chinese Slack’, and there is a reason for that too. Unlike Slack, that allows any enterprise, big or small or even a startup, register and use the application, the WeChat Enterprise officiates and identifies only Chinese registered businesses or have an official Chinese business license. There seems to be no answer to the ‘why’ of it, as it seems the timing is right for Chinese enterprises to grow out of using WeChat for professional group chats.
Many international brands have tried entering this ‘workspace-collaboration-chat’ realm including Slack that has not gained popularity at all, this can be due to the strict censorship that the country follows. Maybe that is one of the driving reasons for Tencent launching its own office-based chat application, for enterprises to evolve and be shoulder to shoulder to their western counterparts using Slack.