This App Could Be The Next WhatsApp
(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
Warning: a man with a gun has entered the plant.
OK, maybe this is an extreme example. But what if this happened? What if someone dangerous entered your company and everyone needed to be immediately alerted? Hopefully this situation never occurs. But here’s one that occurs a lot: a waitress calls out sick and someone is needed to cover. Or a customer cancels an appointment and two service crews have to be notified. Or another customer has an emergency and the nearest truck needs to go there. Or an anticipated shipment of tools or equipment was just received at your warehouse.
Who is sending these messages? Management…at their desks. Who’s receiving these messages? Employees who are in the field, waiting tables, making lattes, ringing up sales, walking around a warehouse, driving in trucks, mowing lawns, fixing roofs, replacing pipes. How do people communicate?
The managers at their desks have email. Everyone else…does not. Do baristas at Starbucks SBUX -1.57%even have Starbucks email addresses? Phone calls? Way too time consuming. There’s really only one way to get information out to the field that makes any sense, and that’s via text messaging. It makes sense because nowadays everyone has a phone. And pretty much everyone has a smartphone too.
Sounds like WhatsApp, right? It’s not. WhatsApp was bought by Facebook because it allows people to easily send their texts, photos, voices and videos to each other over the Internet without paying data charges. That’s fun. But now businesses are starting to notice. And they want something they can use too. That’s the opportunity for companies like Cotap.
Other companies are playing here too. Slack offers more advanced team communication. Internal messaging startup Zulip was just acquired by DropBox. There’s Box.net and of course Yammer, which is now owned byMicrosoft MSFT -0.13%. These applications provide powerful tools for company employees to collaborate, share files, and exchange data about customers and projects. But what if all that collaboration is not necessary? What if you just want get the message out to your people in the field who don’t have email but do have smartphones? The simplicity of Cotap is its attraction. That’s what made consumer products like WhatsApp so popular. But WhatsApp isn’t an enterprise product.
It’s not secure. It’s not encrypted. It’s not as flexible. It’s not company-owned, branded or monitored. Most importantly your employees don’t want their work activities overlapping in any way with what they’re doing on Facebook. There’s personal and there’s business. “Facebook is great when talking to your friends,” says Green. “But something else is needed at work.”
With an enterprise messaging application like Cotap you can not only message specific groups and individuals but better manage users, data and activities from a central place, customize your alerts based on user profiles and integrate the messaging with your users’ calendars. The company promises better management tools, attachment support, survey creation, directory synchronization, CRM integration and on-site training soon. As Cotap and other messaging applications mature, you’ll be better able to send messages and alerts that are geographically targeted.
E-mail will never die. But ultimately it will become integrated with an overall messaging application that takes into account texts, voice, videos, photos, file attachments. And while consumer applications like WhatsApp will always make for a fun toy, corporate tools like Cotap will evolve to provide a more secure, efficient and (most importantly) simple way to alert and send communications to employees.
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