The Android app, available only in India, will soon be out in other countries. First, it's paying Apple iOS devices a visit.
iPhone users can now install Kaizala, a small- and midsize-business (SMB) collaboration app originally released by Microsoft Garage in February. Microsoft Garage
is home to several experimental apps, from a productivity-enhancing Android keyboard for Excel users to an iOS and Web app that can identify dog breeds.
Available exclusively in India, Kaizala is a free app designed to help SMB owners manage their businesses and collaborate with their teams using a chat-inspired interface. Users can submit bills, assign jobs, share and request locations and attach photos by adding one-tap actions to their private or group chat messages.
"The team behind Kaizala embraces mobile-only thinking, especially for independent businesses," stated Athima Chansanchai, a Microsoft spokesperson, in a June 7 announcement
. "They responded to the needs of users who wanted to manage business contacts and share a secure collaboration space on the go."
Chansanchai noted that outside the United States entrepreneurs are more likely to use cell phones to operate their businesses, rather than invest in PCs and costlier devices. The lightweight app even works over 2G cellular connections that could slow down other business apps or render them unusable.
This week, Microsoft released a version of Kaizala for Apple iOS devices. Soon, the software giant expects to roll out the app to other countries, Chansanchai said.
Following a similar trajectory as Kaizala is the iOS version of Sprightly, another Microsoft Garage app. Also available on Android since February, Sprightly is meant to ease SMB users into the world of mobile and social marketing
The template-driven app can be used to create shareable, professional-quality fliers, e-cards, price lists, catalogs and coupons. The app organizes images and other marketing content into reusable "Collections." Sharing options include Facebook, WhatsApp and PDFs.
Kaizala and Sprightly represent a new breed of Microsoft productivity apps tailored for small businesses. In April, Microsoft took the wraps off Project Madeira, an Office-powered ERP offering for small companies.
The cloud-based service piggybacks on Office applications, enabling users to complete ERP-related tasks without switching between applications. For example, if Project Madeira detects an invoice or quote request in an Outlook inbox, it contextually displays it within Outlook along with the tools required to process it.
"Project Madeira connects business processes with the productivity tools in Office 365 to help small and midsize businesses grow sales, manage finances and streamline operations," Microsoft Project Madeira General Manager Marko Perisic stated in an April 11 announcement
. "If you know how to use Office, then you know how to use Project Madeira," he said.
In October 2015, Microsoft released its cloud-enabled Dynamics NAV 2016 ERP software
, bringing several of the company's enterprise-grade business analytics capabilities to its SMB customers. The software features built-in Power BI dashboards, Dynamics CRM Online integrations, native mobile apps and an assortment of on-premises and cloud installation options.