In our previous post, we looked at MS Sway and some of it’s uses and benefits on presenting information. This week, we look at Microsoft Kaizala to learn a bit about what this is, what it could be used for and it’s benefits and drawbacks. Let’s get started!

What is Kaizala?

If this is something you haven’t heard of before, we’re not surprised. It’s reasonably new to the Microsoft family (July 2019). But what is Kaizala? The best way to describe Kaizala is to liken it to WhatsApp, but seemingly better and it’s used in business, by individuals and other communities. Even for research and co-ordination.

Kaizala is a phone-based chat and messaging App which enables the sending of instant messages, Kaizala Actions, attachments (i.e., pictures, documents, videos, audios and more), etc. via mobile networks. And, Kaizala supports end-to-end encryption of all chats, whether private or in groups.

Where is Kaizala used?

It’s mostly for business use with employees and other stakeholders who work remotely or are out of the office a lot. Kaizala is an App which makes it easy to report on tasks and actions, send/receive communications and get work done whilst improving overall communications and networking.

It could be used in education and research for internal and external learners and/or researchers. In Queen’s, we use Teams and Stream for recording live-lectures and sharing recordings with students. But what if we collaborate with other institutions and/or in other countries? We can only share Stream recordings with staff and/or students internal to Queen’s with QUB log-ins.

Benefits

The benefits of using Kaizala include easier workplace coordination. Kaizala makes it easier to manage work and projects where employees work remotely and/or are on-the-go. It allows everyday tasks to be communicated and coordinated . The App has built-in actions which allow managers to assign jobs to specific employees, schedule meetings, and track employee performance.

What about regular announcements to individuals or groups of people? Kaizala could be the solution. It allows for individual messages, group messaging or broadcast messaging. There’s no need to send out an announcement to everyone if it only applies to one section or person.

Data belonging to an organisation remains inside the organisation. There is no leakage of data or data mining in the background and this is an important benefit when it comes to GDPR. Additionally, communications have encryption. And once a user is removed from the group, their chat history is cleared. This means they will no longer have access to any data after leaving the organisation. Again, think about this in the context of education and/or research.

Perhaps the mobile phone is too small to view and co-ordinate all your tasks and communications on Kaizala. If you don’t want to use the App on the mobile, why not try the web version instead?

In terms of communication channels, everyone can be assigned the same message(s), tasks and/or actions so everyone is aware of company updates.

Drawbacks

Employees and/or users need to input their telephone number to the App. However, phone numbers of individuals are not shown to other Kaizala users and this avoids a sizable security concern in relation to GDPR. But it effectively means communications can be on 24/7 which might feel a bit ‘big brother’ but for those working in different time-zones, this is a benefit.

Let’s have a look at some of the features.

Kaizala overview

To help you out more, please watch this YouTube video on Kaizala Essentials (part 1):

And Part 2:

Can I set up meetings?

Of course. Watch this video to find out how:

MS Kaizala – setting up meetings

Meetings however are based in physical locations, not online. If you require an online meeting, this can be set up via MS Teams and the teams link shared via the Kaizala announcements for the relevant people/groups. Remember to state the date and time with emphasis on the time zone (if working internationally). The meeting can be recorded in Teams. More on this shortly.

Can I view pending actions?

Yes. Have a look at this video to discover how:

MS Kaizala – Viewing pending actions
How can I set up Video calls?

To create Video calls, tap Kaizala Actions, and Let’s Meet. Enter the meeting title, choose a date and time. Then choose the length of duration. Enter location, or choose your current location. Add an agenda and tap Send.

This is very much the same as a video call in WhatsApp. And it would be good if those video calls could be recorded but that functionality is not there yet. For more training on Kaizala, visit the MS Kaizala training page.

Can it do Polls?

Yes. Polls, questions and surveys can be created and sent to your Kaizala groups. This can be a good way to gather opinions, sequence agenda items and/or decide on team building exercises, strategies or where to eat.

Of course polls can be used to gain feedback on policies and processes. The creator of the poll can monitor poll completion and remind pollees to complete the poll. Poll results can be viewed by everyone if permissions are set up for this OR the creator of the poll can have responses viewable only by them.

Why use Kaizala instead of Teams?

Basically, Kaizala is recommended for audiences when you are supporting open networks of people, i.e., people outside your organisation. It a phone-based service that works well on networks from 2G onwards. It’s a ‘light’ service in terms of the amount of information being sent. Audience members can join Kaizala with just a phone number and they’re connected. And Kaizala, because it’s a Microsoft product, can integrate with other Microsoft products.

Whereas MS Teams is the hub of communications and collaborations internal to Queen’s (or other organisations) with employees / staff and/or students.

Real-life scenario

However, let’s look at a scenario where you need to record a teams meeting and share that content via Kaizala in Queen’s. You can invite anyone to a Teams meeting and record the meeting. However, those external guests will not be able to view the recording.

One work-a-round to make the recording available is to store the recording on Mediasite (instead of MS Stream) and make that Mediasite recording available to people outside the organisation. Currently, this means manually uploading the recording to Mediasite but then that Mediasite link can then be shared via Kiazala.

The good news is the Teams to Mediasite storage should be an option and automated in the future. Of course there are some considerations for viewing any recordings, i.e., bandwidth, etc. So whether it’s customer service, research collaboration or Supervisor support of a PhD student in another country and/or University, Kaizala allows meetings to happen.

Is Kaizala here to stay?

Apparently yes, but not quite in all its previous forms. From 1st July 2020, Microsoft ended sales of the Kaizala Pro standalone service. However, Kaizala and Teams will continue to be available as part of the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans.

The best bit is, Kaizala can be used by people without a Microsoft license!

Next time

In our next blog post, we will be looking at Yammer, what it is and what it could be used for. Join us then to learn more.

Remember, the DigiKnow blog posts are released at noon on a Monday.

Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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