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Alibaba’s DingTalk Hits Town

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DingTalk, Alibaba Group’s proprietary enterprise communication and collaboration platform, was launched in Malaysia in an English version recently. This makes Malaysia the first Southeast Asian nation to have this free downloadable application in English on both Google and Apple App store. Malaysia is also the first overseas market for DingTalk, outside of China.

DingTalk aims to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with mobile and cloud technologies to enjoy simple, efficient and secure business communications and collaboration. It currently supports businesses in cross sectors such as e-commerce, education, finance and manufacturing.

“Malaysia is chosen ahead of Singapore as 40 percent of businesses in Malaysia are SMEs,” says Cathy Yan, DingTalk’s Corporate Affairs Manager. “With the Malaysian government encouraging and incentivising companies in the adoption of digital transformation in their operations, this bodes well for a business application like DingTalk to take off in Malaysia.”

Created in January 2015, DingTalk is a platform that enables text, photo, voice and video communication, workflow management and collaboration among team members and enterprises of various sizes, across geography as well as with secret secured group chats within an organisation. Voice and video services are currently only available via VoIP for overseas users.

In addition, DingTalk is a pretty handy cloud-based office automation tool that can efficiently support HR, travel and expense approvals with a multitude of templates for each industry. With Ding Drive, office colleagues can quickly and easily share files and collaborate across different operating systems, including IOS, Android, Mac and Windows.

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More than 5 million companies and organisations are currently using its Chinese version, making it China’s no. 1 business-focused communication application.

Key Features of DingTalk

DingTalk unifies communications:

  • Phone/Chat: DingTalk can support up to 3,000 members in a single group chat.
  • Voice Conferencing: Multi-party participation with ease of clicking a button on the group chat for up to 50 people.
  • Video Conferencing: High-definition video conferencing equipment for up to 16 parties, changeable between training and discussion mode.
  • Ding Mail: Effective email messaging and receive email notifications in chats. Ding Mail makes email messaging more like chats instead of threads.
  • Organization Chart: View organisation’s structure in a glance, find people and contacts with ease.
  • Secret Chat: Send a traceless secret message for ultimate privacy and protection. Once read, the message automatically deletes itself after 30 seconds. No Copy & Paste is allowed during Secret Chat mode. Both profiles within the Secret Chat are masked, hence the identities remain concealed.

DingTalk enables office automation – smart mobile office

  • Attendance: Smart clocking-In and out system, automatically generates attendance reports.
  • Approvals: all your workplace tools in one place – requests for leaves, applications for business trips or reimbursements at the convenience of your phone. Approval functions lets you view pending applications, keep track of all your approved applications and submit your own applications for approval.
  • Ding Drive: quick and easy file collaboration, integrated company chats and file-sharing. Easy and sharable files between companies through your external contacts or keep files only accessible to employees. Free storage for every registered organisation.
  • Log: View work reports from previous days, weeks or months to help identify problems.

DingTalk enhances internal and external collaboration

  • DING Message: Send important messages via SMS, phone or in the app (DING message via phone is only available for a few customers and the function is available only to a “White List” of users).
  • DING Tasks: create and assign work tasks in seconds
  • DING Meetings: Book offline meetings, video conferences and conference calls

DingTalk: Introducing its smart office devices

  • With the C1 Smart Wi-Fi Router, users can complete the 4-step configuration in 5 minutes. With one-click setup and seamless roaming, the router enables smart network traffic control and supports up to 256 devices.
  • Meeting has never been easier. Besides screen sharing between offices powered by DingTalk, users can also use D6 Wireless HD Projector or V1 Wireless Portable Projector for presentation.
  • DingTalk enables enterprises to conveniently record attendance in the workplace and at external meetings with the M1 Finger Print Attendance Machine and M2 Facial Recognition Smart Receptionist.

With these features, DingTalk sounds like an easy, hassle-free and virtually cost-free (up to fifty users) endeavour for any small business to undertake in its first steps towards automating its office processes. This frees up the need to spend on building or buying software and maintaining servers. Having already proven its usability in China, there is no reason for SMEs to doubt it efficacy in Malaysia. Notwithstanding, not every feature is fully available in this market yet and one can see that at a glance in the below specification table.

App Size (MB) iOS 107
ANDROID 51
Support and Compatibility Focus Communication and Collaboration of enterprises for their business operations
Compatibility Web, iOS, Android, Mac OS, Windows
Multi-device support Desktop and mobile
Search Provides search engines on almost every interface and can search for key word in the following categories: Contacts; Group Chat; Messages; Function; Ding; External Contacts; Public group; Ding Mail; Ding Drive
Price Free for all sizes and all native features, third party app/service fees may be applicable
Registration Process Three simple steps for sign-up:

1. Upon download and installation of the app, key in mobile number to receive Verification Code

2. Enter Verification Code

3. Set Password

Requirement Mobile number
Account binding Tied to carrier phone number
Add friend For people within the same organization without first adding to phone book
Communication Global Contact Book Yes
Encryption All data is encrypted by SSL/TLS high-level security communication standards levels
VOIP Yes
Video conference Yes (video services is currently only available via VoIP for users outside of China)
Biz call / Teleconference Yes (It’s not available for now in Malaysia, but we are working on building up the infrastructure and obtaining the necessary licenses to enable this service for Malaysia users)
Sticker Yes
Cloud save Yes
Notifications Flexible, granular notification settings
Chatbot Provides around-the-clock FAQ support for users. Directly accessible via Chat window within the App.
Collaboration Edit picture in IM Support adding comments to pictures before sharing
Task Yes
Meeting Yes
Attendance Yes
Approval Yes
Cloud save Yes
File sharing (file size) Limitation on shareable file sizes is 700MB
Multiple time zone Assign time zone for an organization and everyone in this organization will share one time zone

According to chief technology officer Hugo Zhu, DingTalk will focus on building a local Malaysian service network and an operational support team to ensure there is necessary support. It is no doubt that DingTalk would want its inaugural foray into another market to be a resounding success. Beyond Malaysia, Chris Wang, Head of Global Business Development shared that DingTalk aims to organically expand to Hong Kong, India, Taiwan, Thailand as well as USA.

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