The most difficult of things 500 years ago was communication because one could only send messages through a channel one trusted completely and it still took weeks not days. Today, it takes 500 milliseconds. All you need to do is take out your smartphone and you are just a click of a button away.
Despite the Internet being the actual enabler, if there is a platform which has become the poster boy of the new means of communication – it is surely WhatsApp.
WhatsApp has transformed our lives. It has completely redefined the way we communicate, share information and even transact business. One would argue, what of SMS? And Messengers like MSN, Yahoo and Skype which have existed for decades before the idea of WhatsApp was even conceived. Well, here is what WhatsApp has done. With $0 spent on marketing, WhatsApp has garnered over a billion monthly active users who cannot imagine communicating with their friends and family without WhatsApp. It has connected people so much so that you can easily talk to your friend sitting in the remote Kalahari desert on the way to work, in the metro (local train/tube). Not because, you both have internet. But because, WhatsApp is so simple that it has now become ubiquitous. It seems as if the world has become so small, that it fits into the palm of your hand.
Using WhatsApp is so common, that now it’s become a verb. “WhatsApp it to me”, my friends say after we’ve taken a selfie. WhatsApp is part of our life in more ways than we can count. Here is how a typical day on ‘my’ WhatsApp looks like:
• It starts off with a couple of Good Morning images, GIFs and long forwarded messages – many of which I’ve now come to block!
• It is then followed up by a couple of updates on the family group about who is going where and what their day is looking like. My participation is limited to sharing a thumbs up emoji (smiley) at best!
• Then the updates start on the various ‘topic’ groups. The entrepreneur group will be buzzing with new policies that government has floated which will be followed by arguments from both sides as to how it is completely stupid vs it being revolutionary. I lately noticed that my wife’s WhatsApp contains several such groups – from female entrepreneurs. And most of them updating one another about the new dress, the latest bag or make-up kit they’re selling.
• The next set of updates start on the closest circle of friends. If it’s a group of male friends, then surely there are a bunch of adult jokes flying in and out from the group. Conversely in case it’s a mixed group , then the topics of discussion are mostly about trying out that ‘new restaurant’ in town, or catching the evening show of the latest movie, or planning a trekking trip to the Himalayas. This group is now set to mute – for a year!
• It doesn’t end there, because the largest chunk of messages come from work. All the bit-sized updates that earlier used to come in via sms or Email have now moved to WhatsApp. You sometimes wonder, why this guy is sending me the ‘user acquisition numbers’ on WhatsApp?
• Lastly, it is everything that is promotional. Everything from buying the best package for your next holiday to the discount available on the latest iPhone – everything comes via the green doors of WhatsApp.
This makes you wonder about the billions of bytes of information that the world is injecting into the servers at WhatsApp. If WhatsApp one day decides to read the information sent on its platform (obviously through machines) – they can easily make a patterned profile of each and every user. Who knows if they already have!
Anyways I’m not discouraging anyone from using WhatsApp. Hear me out.
WhatsApp is useful and transformational but not organised. Simply because WhatsApp was never built for so many use-cases as it is being used for. If you think about it, you can easily come up with better alternatives to each of the usage scenarios which I listed above – where you can use another platform other than WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is only able to exist for a multitude of uses because of 2 things. Its simplicity and ubiquity. We really appreciate the ubiquity when it comes to the personal chats that we have with our family or the plans that we make with our friends. We don’t need to think twice about whether my friend is on WhatsApp or not. In most cases, if you are on WhatsApp, then your friends are too!
The nature of personal chats are such that we don’t need any kind of analysis or reporting about the number of messages sent by my mother to me in the month of July. Or filtering the messages by the number of attachments sent and so on. But, when it comes to business, we need to measure each and every data point.
I seriously feel we are letting simplicity and ubiquity have the better of us when there are so many better platforms available for the smooth conduct of business. In the coming times, the world will witness the development of many such platforms which replace a WhatsApp chat group with Apps that are engineered for a target audience and use.
One of many such platforms is built by us. Allow me to introduce you to FeetPort. With FeetPort, we help organisations manage their crucial businesses processes better. You can think of it as a platform where there are 2 kinds of people. One who give instructions and others who work on those instructions.
We provide powerful administration interfaces to your managers and easy to use mobile apps for your field staff. How this gets better is, instead of assigning work in conversation (like you do on WhatsApp) – you assign work in a customised digital form which you yourself have designed. You get to choose which information is going to be provided by you and which pieces will be fed in by your sub-ordinate. So that later, when you get the details on the completion of the task, everything is visible to you in the format you like and the reporting format you want to consume.
One of the most popular features we’ve built is simply called ‘Check-in’. Just the way you ask your sub-ordinates to share their location via WhatsApp – you do the same with FeetPort. But instead of them choosing the location to share; with FeetPort, the app manages this automatically and takes place every time a task is carried out by your sub-ordinate.
We’ve also built a very powerful workflow tool which will enable you to create specialised states or stages for each activity and also assign permissions to the stakeholders who need to drive that state for the activity. To take an example for Vendor Registration, an organisation needs the participation of multiple departments such as Supply Chain, Operations, Technology, Legal and so on. So to handle each state in chronological order, your organisation can create representatives for each activity.
There are 100s of such features which we’ve built while designing FeetPort from scratch! But here are a few distinct ones 🙂
• Set targets for the each team member
• Allocate work to your mobile team
• Give reminders for timely closure of work all day
• Get updates on who is present and who isn’t
• Receive status updates from the field team
• Assign priorities to selective jobs
• Share important updates with your team
• And many more!
If you think this is hard to believe and/or would like to know more about this – fill out this form
Since I’ve been blabbering about WhatsApp for quite some time, it would mean a great deal if you can share this with your friends (on WhatsApp) who are looking to replace WhatsApp with a professional and customised Work-App!
Contributed by Saraansh Tandon, Chief Energetic Officer of FeetPort