A 'lite' version of DingTalk was intro'd for local businesses & schools in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong & Macau at no cost during the pandemic.

A ‘lite’ version of DingTalk was intro’d for local businesses & schools in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong & Macau at no cost during the pandemic. Source: Shutterstock

How DingTalk improves remote working collaboration around Asia

  • DingTalk is Alibaba Group’s entry into the collaboration and communication toolsets
  • These tools are enabling SMEs to smoothen remote working and learning needs
  • During COVID-19, Alibaba began offering a ‘lite’ version of the app for free to small businesses and schools 

As lockdowns ease, we’re all back to the office, right? Well, not exactly.

Having overcome initial teething problems and realizing that things don’t come to a grinding halt, many companies will be ready to embrace the benefits of a remote workforce, or at least look to introduce some flexibility. As workforces have become and will remain in many cases distributed, there has been a rapid surge in the market for collaboration and productivity tools to ensure staff are properly connected to their work systems, and are able to communicate efficiently with both internal and external stakeholders.

Keeping the needs of small-medium enterprises (SMEs) around the region well connected during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic was one of the primary reasons for Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group to introduce its enterprise communication and collaboration platform DingTalk, for companies outside of China.

Known as ‘Ding Ding’ in China due to the sound its message alerts make, DingTalk is part of the Alibaba Group’s efforts to compete with its arch-rival Tencent’s popular WeChat messaging app. DingTalk features many of the popular collaboration features required of similar enterprise platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, such as group communications, voice, and video calls, and file-sharing – all supported by the elastic and secure cloud infrastructure of Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group and Alibaba DAMO Academy, the Group’s global research unit.

DingTalk says it has over 200 million individual registered users, plus over 10 million enterprise users as of September 2019.

Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Malaysia’s general manager, Jordy Cao, said that DingTalk was introduced as a ‘lite’ version of the Chinese enterprise solution, especially to support virtual communication at scale for local businesses and schools in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau at no cost during the pandemic.

“During the Covid-19 outbreak, there’s a surging demand for remote working and learning, especially on video conference. Therefore, DingTalk expanded the video conference from 100 participants up to 300 plus at the same time across time zone. And it’s for free during the outbreak,” said Cao.

In Malaysia, DingTalk is being adopted by major local corporations, including the country’s digital economy accelerator the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), established local e-wallet operator TNG Wallet, and restaurant chain PappaRich. The three organizations are leveraging different aspects of DingTalk to achieve different desired outcomes.

MDEC e-commerce director, Song Hock Koon, commented that the organization uses DingTalk alongside other cloud-based solutions to effectively communicate with the e-commerce community in Malaysia, especially while working from remote locations.

“The discussions in DingTalk aims to facilitate SMEs and e-commerce enablers who are keen to explore business potential in domestic and cross-border e-commerce to connect and seek expert guidance from the industry,” Song said, pointing out that the platform comes inbuilt with a resource learning center Ding Learning, where small businesses can easily upload, and access, a range of informative reports, past recorded workshop sessions, and upcoming webinars. Users can receive push notifications for upcoming events or new industry updates.

PappaRich’s F&B director, Phoebe Ong, says the popular restaurant chain in Malaysia and Singapore also uses DingTalk for virtual communication, but also leans on the app’s other productivity features to manage individual and team tasks with better efficiency.

“For example, during this challenging Covid-19 crisis, we disseminated training videos and group-wide memos to all our outlets and staffs using the DingTalk platform,” Ong said. “Our outlet team then uploaded photos/videos of their application of training videos at the store. The team enjoyed the learning as well as interacting with colleagues from different outlets. This enhances team spirit and a healthy level of team competitiveness.”

High scalability of its cloud infrastructure is one of its “key advantages”, according to Cao. DingTalk also supports 11 languages over its instant messaging function, with artificial intelligence (AI) and DAMO Academy’s natural language processing (NLP) tech powering machine translations in real-time.

“Our cloud infrastructure has been tested by 11.11 global shopping festival and powered US$1 billion of gross merchandise value in just 68 seconds,” Cao added.