Tencent Holdings, the Chinese investment holding company that owns WeChat is working on an enterprise messenger a la Slack. They haven’t announced a release date, but we know that it will be called “企业微信” (means Enterprise WeChat), and it will have both mobile and desktop versions.
(You may want to get Google translate for that link up there)
Slack has permeated workspaces all around the world, changing how teams collaborate, except in China, and it’s not hard to see why. Businesses are reluctant to rely on any non-Chinese services (because they may be blocked by the government without notice).
WeChat (WeiXin, as it’s called over there) wants to take advantage of that fact, and as an incentive, they’re introducing a flurry of features to their new Enterprise app. Asides from the core WeChat functions, like sending images/video, voice notes, text, stickers, etc, they have a receipt function (so people don’t have to flood the group chat with “okay, got it” messages), a Moments stream and a few others.
The work-chat, team collaboration service space is a graveyard. Eko, Teambition, Yammer (Microsoft’s disaster), Dingtalk, Hipchat and many others have tried to capture the workplace collaboration market for themselves, but none of them appears to have the secret sauce Slack seems to have. There’s been loads of speculation about what it is that’s made Slack arguably the fastest growing startup ever. You can read different arguments here, here, here and here.
At the moment, WeChat hasn’t been able to cause any major ripples in Africa, or any other non-Asian markets for that matter. If they’re focusing on the Chinese market for their Enterprise offering, then they have one thing going for them right off the bat – WeChat’s already installed on everyone’s devices.
Is that enough to make a massive difference? Your guess is as good as mine.