Microsoft’s Kaizala messaging service for large-group communication is on its way to becoming part of Microsoft’s Teams group-chat product. Kaizala is phone-number based and includes mobile app versions for iPhone and Android phones. It fits into Microsoft’s strategy to try to get more firstline workers to use its products and services.
Kaizala began as a Microsoft Garage incubation project back in 2017. It started out as a productivity tool specifically for the Indian market. Since then, Microsoft has been broadening its distribution and making the “Pro” version of the app part of the Office 365 commercial plans worldwide for no additional fee.
On April 4, Microsoft officials said Kaizala is now generally available to all eligible Microsoft 365 and Office 365 customers worldwide in 40 languages and 180-plus markets.
In a blog post today, Microsoft officials said “we will be bringing Kaizala capabilities into Microsoft Teams as an integrated offering. We expect the integration to happen in phases over the next 12-18 months, and we will provide more details about the Kaizala and Teams integration roadmap later this quarter.”
(I asked if Microsoft also plans to continue to make Kaizala available as a standalone/separate offering for those who don’t want it as part of Teams. No word on that so far, though this simply may end up being a licensing discussion.)
In the time period leading up to Teams integration, Kaizala is getting some new features. These include @mentions for tagging individuals in a conversation; the ability to delete a message in a one-on-one or group chat within an hour of sending it (or at any point in time if the user is a group admin); and a new Kaizala web app, available now in preview and targeted to be generally available to all Kaizala users later this quarter. Microsoft also is adding image annotation and video calling to the product.
A number of Microsoft customers have found Microsoft’s stable of overlapping collaboration products to be confusing. I’ve had a number of readers ask me about when to use Kaizala versus other Microsoft communication and collaboration tools, which makes me feel like the coming integration between Teams and Kaizala is a smart move.