Zinc, a messaging platform for businesses, announced Friday that it is launching a set of new features aimed at helping desk-less workers get the most out of enterprise instant messaging.
First off, the company is launching Broadcasts, a way for businesses to send employees rich notifications that block out all of the other messages and force users to close then before they can resume messaging. Administrators will be able to see which employees have seen and dismissed the notification.
In addition, the company rolled out support for Organizations, which let administrators subdivide all of the Zinc users in their company into a set of smaller groups.
The capabilities are part of the company’s focus on building a messaging platform that supports a workforce full of people who don’t spend their day in front of a desk. It’s aimed at helping people like hotel housekeepers, field service technicians and security personnel stay in touch with key company information while only interacting with it through a smartphone.
“And they haven’t ever had a digital connection to their company,” Zinc CEO Stacey Epstein said in an interview. “These people are away from not only the systems but also the people who they could quickly and easily communicate and collaborate with.”
The Zinc app allows users to have conversations with one another, send files, share locations, and perform voice and video calls. Broadcasts give administrators the ability to harness that same communication platform to reach their employees for emergency purposes or sharing important news. Notifications sent in that way will be stored in a special inbox for users to refer to later.
A select group of users authorized by administrators will be allowed to craft Broadcasts on their computer and then send them out to an entire organization, or just a subset of people using Zinc at a company. The Broadcasts can include links to web content or deep links into other mobile apps, which is useful for support bulletins and other information.
Zinc previously allowed authorized users to send push notifications to groups of end users, but Broadcasts provide a richer canvas for people to send messages. It’s designed to replace things like sending bulletins via email (which may or may not get read), using old-fashioned loudspeaker broadcasts or even just handing out pieces of paper with important information.
Organizations are supposed to help companies subdivide users inside Zinc so that they’re not inundated with a directory filled with thousands of names when they’re trying to find the right people.
At the same time, administrators can also use Organizations to bring people from multiple companies together in one chat environment. That’s useful for helping people work together on projects when they work for different companies. For example, a construction company could have an organization that also included partners from an architecture firm.
That isn’t exactly anything new in the enterprise chat world — Slack allows administrators to bring in guests and give them access to a limited number of channels. One of the key differences in this case is that all of the messages from different organizations are collated into a single inbox for users, rather than requiring people to switch back and forth between different instances like Slack does.
The company currently has around 85 corporate customers, including Hyatt, Mike’s Bikes and Pepper Construction. It will be interesting to see if this push will lead to the startup (which was formerly known as CoTap) improving its competitive prospects against the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams.