Kaizala vs Yammer vs Teams vs Skype For Business vs Office 365 Groups

Joel Janke
Occasional Contributor

You guys seem to have a bit of ADD when it comes to collaboration applications these days.   I kind of thought everything was starting to come together with Teams being new flagship product, but then I see you release Kaizala to Office 365 users.   What exactly is the strategy here?

52 Replies

If you mean Groups = email, then I think that MS has enumerated how it views Teams vs. Yammer vs. Email, with the Inner/Outer Loops diagrams shown since Ignite 2017.


As for Kaizala, well, yes that's a very good question I too would like an answer on.

This works most of the time - but doesn't really cover groups which are about learning - groups which are sort of outer loop - but the people are inner loop.  Yammer is good for this.


Microsoft Kaizala makes it easy to connect and coordinate with your Firstline workers – wherever they are – using a simple-to-use chat interface. Efficiently manage work or collect data from individuals or large groups, even if they’re not in your organization. View built-in reports to get insights for faster decision making.
Kaizala is available with Office 365 and works on iPhone and Android phone. Kaizala is available in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, the Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, and Vietnam.

Aren't the firstline workers who I'm communicating with using the app my "Inner Loop" contacts?  Why not use MS Teams for chatting with my colleagues?

This is a great point.  We believe that there are clear scenarios for each product:


1. Kaizala is recommended in emerging markets in scenarios where you are supporting an open network of people. Users can join Kaizala with just a phone number, with an option to connect their AAD identity

2. Teams is the center of collaboration & communication for Office 365 in the inner loop for your employees.

3.  Yammer is best for broad organization wide communities.


We will continue to communicate these scenarios as we build even more connective tissue between the products as appropriate.  For instance the Yammer connector enables community managers to collaborate on their community from within Teams.  You will see more of this as we head toward Ignite and the end of the calendar year.  I hope this helps clarify our design.

Bleh...sorry...I just threw up a little bit when I read about a Yammer connector for Teams while reading a response about where Kaizala should be used.


There is a massive ecosystem of products like this that don't come from Microsoft.   If I need a secret decoder ring to figure out what massing Microsoft system I need to deploy to communicate in use case A vs use case Z...then why wouldn't I look outside of Microsoft?     If I ask the same question of Slack around which tool to use...they have one answer for me.   It will be Slack every time.   Having multiple products that overlap with 80% functionality (or more) isn't just confusing for system implementers it is confusing for end users.   God forbid an implementer actually listen to your marketing noise on this and attempt to implement the wheel of communication for a single client...what would the users think?    I also can't help but find the irony that I'm typing this message in yet another proprietary communication persistent chat styled vehicle that isn't on the wheel.

>I just threw up a little bit when I read about a Yammer connector for Teams

This connector has a good purpose for many use cases. I have a theater session at Ignite where I'll be discussing how the suite can be used with IT organizations and this connector is something that can be useful.

e.g. use Teams for the "private backchannel" to brainstorm on answers to questions posed in "public" in Yammer.


As for Slack - well it's not hard to understand why a single-product company views it as a good solution for any problem. They only have one answer to give.

I just today saw this Kaizala.

You can already give access to outside vendors or collaborators in Teams.  Why would I have them use kaizala?  Why wouldn't I just create a Team for the project we are collaborating on at the time?


Seems like a lot of redundancy that isn't needed.  At least I don't see the need yet.

You really hit the nail on the head with the overlapping functionality. Instead of having one app that does everything, all these apps have major downfalls that force us to look at other solutions.

Quite honestly this is stupid and confusing.


I don't need yet another chat app. I have too many already. If Teams is missing functionality that you feel it needs, add the functionality. Don't duplicate existing functionality elsewhere.

I just got the notification today through Office365 and came searching for someone to speak some sense..

This is absolutely ridiculous..

I seriously cannot keep being a “champion” promoting and recommending our org through this mess.

I also think this is a bit annoying. Why don't just use Teams for every chat function... And make Teams chat so you can "pop out" just the chat window to replace Skype... Or make Kaizala thing into teams because I must say that I like the functionality of Kaizala... But there are to many communications spaces at the moment.

I understand everyone's passion here but let me clarify. There are regions, emerging markets and very specific scenarios for which Kaizala is an approporiate solution.  For most of us however Microsoft Teams IS the hub for teamwork in Office 365 and is the primary chat, collaboration and communication solution we should be focusing on.  


Office 365 groups is the membership infrastructure that Teams and other Office 365 workloads are built against to provide a single source of truth for team member and owner rosters.  While some organizations do use these groups within Outlook (since we launched them there prior to the advent of Teams) in most cases a move to Teams directly or through "teamifying" a O365 Group you own is the proper path.  


Yammer is appropriate for larger organizations (greater than 2500 people currently) who wish to drive employee engagement. Additionally its scenario is for the "outer loop" of communications where you are not working day to day with "team" or "tribe" members but are instead making a query of the broader organizational wisdom that can be at your fingertips. 


If your organization is committed to Office 365 and Teams there's no need to deviate from that.  Or if you are in the emerging markets where join by cellphone number is a key scenario to your work you may consider Kaizala.  It is all dependent on your business scenrio and requirements as most technology deployment are.  But just because it exists does not mean you have to consider it if your business doesn't warrant the need.    


So while it may seem like a "mess" from the outside it's important to remember that Microsoft deliveres software around the world and there are many different scenarios depending on your region and industry.   Our meeting the needs of those users does not mean you have to deviate from your stated collaboration & communication strategy!  Teams including chat, calling & meetings, Office ProPlus, SharePoint, Planner and Yammer (if needed) are a fantastic suite of capabilities that your users will love you for.  Especially when you connect them all together through the Teams experience and mobile apps.  


If you want to learn more about how to plan for this end to end experience join us over in the Driving Adoption forum here and in our O365 Champions program. We'll be talking about this very topic and more over there as well.  

Wouldn't a minimal Teams app accomplish exactly the same? Just like MS did with Skype Lite? This still seems a huge mess, waste of resources and competing products inside the same org! Very confusing product for someone that already uses your tools.

@Karuana Gatimu, sorry but I'm not buying what you're selling. It doesn't just seem like a mess. It is a mess, and no amount of spin is going to change that. I can't explain to my staff or to my clients which app to use and why. I need yet another chat application on my desktop and on my phone. I have to remember which contacts are on which application, and if a contact is on multiple (likely), then every time I go to communicate, I have to decide which one to use.


If Teams is missing features, then add the features. Don't add another application that muddies the waters. 


This is a really dumb decision by Microsoft.


It appears unfocused and confusing because it is unfocused and confusing. No amount of spin will change that.

Thank you for clarifying this Karuana. I read GA announcement this morning on the way to work and was confused as to what the purpose of Kaizala serves in the Office ecosystem. It looks like we will continue to stick with Teams for our organization, but it's good that there is an application for organizations that are in regions that don't have the benefit of 4G and hopefully soon 5G telecommunications networks.


Microsoft...could we please get 5 different spreadsheet applications?   I mean...having Excel seems so silly when there are so many needs.   Don't even get me started on the idea of a one size fits all email client...that ludicrous...lets start pumping out some more email clients if you want to be a player in this new world you dream of.   One word processor...ridiculous.   What are you a one trick pony?


OK that was funny.

I hadn't thought of it that way but your right.

Excel/Word/Outlook, they have the ability to do so many different things for so many different types of users that no one, at least no I have meet yet, knows how to use all of their different features.


So why again is Microsoft coming out with Kaizala?


I agree that it would make more sense to put everything into teams and just stick with the one program.  It has so much potential why drag another app into this.  

They have already said they are going to replace Skype for Business with Teams.  That is two of the four combined. 

Teams already has a downloadable app so the Internet speed shouldn't be an issue right?

So what are you waiting for Microsoft?

I love this vibrant conversation and I mean that.  I do think maybe there's a part of this scenario that is being missed.  Think about our recent US elections.  Many campaigns have thousands of volunteers that onboard for only 3 months.  Adding each and every one of those people to your AAD infrastructure, generating credentials and then managing their exit can be a very large task.  This grassroots, governmental scenario was part of the birthplace of Kaizala and is relevant today in emerging markets as well as others.  Will some of these features exist in Teams one day - I can't speak to that.  As it is today we provide another product to facilitate this cellphone number join scenario and are already building in connective tissue between the two products that will allow people to participate conversations in either experience.  


This is an ever changing space so it's wise to stay focused on what is relevant to your company and its enterprise deployments.  We are here to help you make those decisions with targeted scenario guidance for both products.  

Well, from my laptop here I can use 3 different versions of Excel, one in the browser, one designed to be a native tablet experience and the 'classic' desktop version. Each has some kind of niche.


Office 365 is an all you can eat buffet, you aren't really supposed to eat everything.


I used to find this whole concept hard to grasp, and it was only after spending more time with users that I started to see it differently. I've been a technology architect for over 20 years, I want to see a neat block diagram that shows where everything fits together into a clear strategy, that's what architects do. That's not really how users see things, each have their own views of that diagram, you provide a variety of choices to suit different use cases.


Now, I think the real question here shouldn't be 'Why does Kaizala exist?' but 'Why doesn't Kaizala interoperate with Teams?'.

I'll start by saying that I enjoy this conversation, and hearing different points of view that all make sense.


I understand people who say Kaizala could have been built within Teams from the start, extending its capabilities. Now, as developers, we also know how much effort it takes to extend an existing platform while ensuring backward compatibility. This is not ideal in a fast paced and ever evolving environment, like external collaboration is these days. Spin-offs or third parties, like Yammer, Skype or Kaizala, make it much easier to quickly release, test drive or roll back capabilities without hurting the main stream. Kaizala could just as well have ended up as a failed attempt and sent to the trash.


It's a trade off, and overall I feel I am in a sweet spot being an Office 365 consultant these days. I'll just keep blaming Microsoft for the lack of direction and holes, while I'll take the credit for all the cool scenarios ;-) . The first thing I did when hearing the Kaizala announcement was to alert a non-profit that has offices in low bandwidth places, in Africa and South America, where a full MS Teams deployment would have been a hassle.



@Steven Collier wrote:


Office 365 is an all you can eat buffet, you aren't really supposed to eat everything.


I used to find this whole concept hard to grasp, and it was only after spending more time with users that I started to see it differently. I've been a technology architect for over 20 years, I want to see a neat block diagram that shows where everything fits together into a clear strategy, that's what architects do. That's not really how users see things, each have their own views of that diagram, you provide a variety of choices to suit different use cases.


I have to agree with @Steven Collier on this. Microsoft is trying to find adoption of their product through different means. While, they have an overall idea of how things should fit together, there are markets and ideas where it will be utilized differently.  I am the Microsoft champion for my organization but Kaizala will not come up in the conversation for us, Teams is where it is at and we are driving that product for adoption now.


Microsoft has always been good at giving us multiple solutions to the same problem and then let us pick the right one for ourselves. It does get to be a big headache when you are trying to sell a solution and someone say, "well what about this...". But, each of us will find that solution that will fit the best for our respective organizations.

I have the same Question. Whats the intend / Purpose of this?

Yes I agree, why shouldn't Microsoft just release a 'light' ms team who can accommodate chat function in ms team?

So for the user who has limited internet connection, they can install light ms teams.

But the system is still integrated as 1 product.

Hello All

This is an ask related to Kaizala implementation...

Would like to understand , if by any means we can restrict the Responses from individual to be seen by ALL members of the group (individual is member of the group).

Given a scenario, where Customer Service and Customers are members of a group then, we do not want to show each Customer's response to all other Customers. But Customer Service Representative can see the response from the Customer.

Can you please help how to configure Kaizala to achieve this feature?

Thanks for the thorough response Karuana. I'm in one of your emerging markets, Kenya, and it seems to me that the only unique feature of Kaizala is the ability to join via mobile number (ie: no AAD required). Why not just add this ability to Teams (or Teams 'lite' as some are calling for) and call it a day. No need for another app to confuse us all on! (And while I see the appeal, even folks in emerging markets are confused.)

But why have Yammer? Why not have a Teams group that includes everyone? And then discuss any questions from that Public Team in a Private Team?

@mjschmidt  There is a limit to how many users you can have in a team/channel. There is a max of 2,500 users. If your organization is larger than that, I would suggest using Yammer for a full organization announcement.

There is still something about the way Teams works which means it is not as good for discussion.  The Teams environment is about "what it says on the tin" - for teams - for people with tasks and actions  - for operational conversation "who is doing what when".  Yammer is good for discussion "why do we do things this way, how can we improve this aspect of our organisation, what do people across the organisation think about this environmental strategy.


In my organisation people are already getting "Teamed out" - people are creating Teams for group activity which would be better served by Outlook connected Office365 groups or by Yammer groups. 

Kaizala is a tool that will extend Office 365 Power and capabilities to eld line workers who don't sith at a desk and use a PC 


Theis was primarily designed for Emerging Markets 



Thank you for explaining the vision/role of Kaizala in the 365 environment. I found the graphic posted by @Christopher Graves to be very informative.  


Slightly off topic, is there a place where the rest of the O365 environment is illustrated in a similar way? I am relatively new to O365 and would like to get a better idea of Microsoft's macro-vision of how organizations might implement the various apps and their functionality.  These visual representations will help to instruct the users we need to onboard.


Maybe @Christopher Graves could tell me where he found the first illustration?


Thank you.

Collaboration overload ... where's that HBR article again ... seriously MS need have a serious think about all of this.  Inner loop / outer loop - is anyone actually using this anymore?

 @Garry Rawlins @jason drew said  "You really hit the nail on the head with the overlapping functionality. Instead of having one app that does everything, all these apps have major downfalls that force us to look at other solutions."


Office 365 is the one app - but Microsoft is business that is selling product to a wide spread of diverse industries.  "One-size fits all" is very hard to do.  The diversity of product within Office 365 creates problems but so does a monolithic product with no variety.  This is the conundrum.


"Inner loop / outer loop - is anyone actually using this anymore?" - @Garry Rawlins can you explain what you are getting at?

@Garry Rawlins  I believe that @Christopher Graves mentioned the link to the "inner and outer circles" and stated that it has been used since 2017. I believe it is still relevant.

This is so point on, They seem to be throwing allot at wall. I will say they are working at a faster changes updates and decommissions, schedule, The problem out side the 80% issue that will can live with, is you embrace the MS APP then its broadly change, or redundant to another APP.
Exactly right. Slack is not and can't possibly the answer for every solution. We've found it quite ineffective internally and in some external cases and opted for Teams—having come from HipChat. I think having an integrated yet diverse product offering allows users to select the best tool for the specific scenario and existing flows rather than refactoring their internal processes to match a new tool.
Absolutely the best explanation. Thanks for this concise comparison.

@Karuana Gatimu Thanks for the clarification - Just saw the message on Kaizala rolling out globally, and was wondering "why another chat". The clarification below "If your organization is committed to Office 365 and Teams there's no need to deviate from that" helps. 

It would be helpful if there was more clarity about the use case for these apps when a communication like this comes out. It would also probably save you a lot of grief from people like me as well.



Hi there - I'd be interested in your comparison of Slack vs Teams and where you thought Slack didn't work for you.





@Garry Rawlins 

Sorry - I wasn't clear. I've not used Slack before, at least not in any serious way. 

Feels like Kaizala is more like WhatsApp? Also Microsoft has GroupMe as well that is used more in non-Corp environments. Is Kaizala intended to compete with WhatsApp?

@Karuana Gatimu 

Funny you state "If your organization is committed to Office 365 and Teams there's no need to deviate from that." because that's what MS has been 'advising' us from day one. We have been told, "Teams will be the hub for EVERYTHING Microsoft". We were event told that eventually, we wont even need Outlook anymore' it will all be done from within Teams.

Yet here is another product/service that offers some value, overlaps with value already in other services/products and I still don't get it. I understand your examples and I get that however, it seems there is no thought given to the existing MS customers how have already invested in existing services/products. 

This just adds one more and to a lot of customers, our users are constantly coming to us with "now what's this new app, are we supposed to be using it, I thought XYZ already did that we were instructed to use that"?!

To make it worse, like always, the new service is on by default and we have to actively go in and prevent the new service from appearing. It's a constant battle and I agree with others that you are shooting yourselves in the foot.

When the circle becomes to large to manage, we will start to look for more streamlined, manageable solutions.

Take all these one-off services and products and integrate them into the core services already being consumed.

My full time job is not staying on top of "What's MS doing this month". We have asked repeatedly for a M365 Road Map and its gotten too big for even MS to present. We were told, there are too many services to present a Road Map. Even with Ignite, who can keep up anymore.



@KeithT I definitely agree with your concern when it comes to these communication tools that do the same thing and the humor is not lost on me that this blog posting messaging thing we are using on this website is yet another variation of a similar thing (as is VSTS).   


When it comes to the roadmap though...I think they do a great job on this site...


I give them an A+ for having that site.

@Joel Janke @Karuana Gatimu 


Here is my take on things: 

What if we have different "Channel Types" in a single Solution. 

If you cancel out the overlaps of each solution, what are you left with ? The scenarios itself.


Solution = Teams

Channel Scenario = Choose a scenario type for this channel that suite your needs.

Each Channel Type can be configured to allow for the different scenarios.

Private, Open, Closed, Non-AAD, Public Directory Listing, Low-Bandwidth, Telephone Number method, Outer Loop, Inner Loop, IM Chat, Dial-In. etc. etc. etc.


Teams is about unification of islands yes, love it but is now being muted out by introducing overlaps of other solutions instead of having the ability to define scenarios per channel. 


Honestly, this just seems like a Microsoft version of What's App. If that is the vertical, it makes sense and I can see it being a good competitor.  Integrating this into Teams is confusing users, though.  I would agree that is it gumming up the communications strategy.  Having used Kaizala (mind you, the name is not good), I can see a use.  Again, this is a What's App look-a-like.@Karuana Gatimu 

You can give access to outsiders in Teams, but it is a royal pain. Yammer can do this with external people quite easily and works good.  Kaizala in my opinion is easier than teams to collaborate in that I do not have to log out of my tenant.@Michael Fulton maybe its a dummied down GUI for a subsetted use case...fair enough, but the problem is integration.   A Kaizala user can't message a Teams user or Skype For Business user or a Yammer user.   At the very least these GUIs should be able to interoperate.  I'd personally prefer one platform though.   You could have a Teams Communicator Mobile client...only does messages.   A Teams Files Mobile client...only manages files.   A Teams Full GUI mobile client that has everything.  You can always dummy down a smart app with out splitting the platform and creating a new isolated island of users.


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