Kato.im, a business communication service provider, just announced the launch of its new product, Kato Teams — a free professional chat solution offering live 1:1 and group messaging, file sharing and search capabilities.
It's designed to improve the efficiency of business communication, according to the Oakland, Calif.-based company.
Kato Teams aims to bring the best of IM and email functionality to the enterprise, at zero cost to businesses.
How Does it Work?
At its very basic level, Kato Teams can be used the same way as SMS or any chat application. But you can take it a few steps further by uploading or simply pasting images into the conversation. This is tremendously useful, for example when having a professional discussion about design, as users can quickly paste screenshots into the conversation while discussing them in real-time.
Kato Teams also enables multiple, side-by-side conversations from a single window, as well as multi-organization capabilities, allowing businesses to seamlessly communicate with external contractors, designers, freelancers and vendors all on one screen, utilizing only one tab within your browser. Additionally, its global search functionality allows members to identify important conversations and company information through a comprehensive archive of all previous communications.
Other neat features like screen sharing and video sharing are available through Kato Labs, the experimental arm of the product. Kato Teams also offers third party integrations with dozens of service providers, such as GitHub and ZenDesk, to aggregate notifications from multiple tools into a single, searchable stream of information.
How’s it Different?
Kato Teams boasts that it is currently the only 100 percent free chat solution for the enterprise without any of the restrictions and paywalls associated with other chat providers, such as limitations on team members, message history stored, multi-team and multi-company functionality, and third-party integrations.
Aside from its totally free pricing structure, what makes Kato different from competitors like Yammer and tibbr?
“Our utopian visions are not very different, but we’re approaching it from a very different perspective,” said CEO and founder Andrei Soroker. “Those guys look at social networking as the solution for the workplace collaboration mess. But we view an iteration on email as the solution. Email is something that has sustained data integrity policies and offers search and compliance. It has real, not social and not consumer features that foster true professional communication.”
He goes on to say:
tibbr and Yammer are essentially a kind of throw away communication, it’s just chatter. There’s not that much actual perceptual communication that users will want to refer to maybe ten years down the road. But you can refer to an email that was written to ten years ago. You can also refer to a Kato conversation that was written ten years ago. So we want to bring the same kind of efficiency and effectiveness of communication as you would get from a social networking product but we also want to provide credible, stable data that documents your organizational memory in a simpler way than email does.”
Consumer vs. Enterprise
Despite the fact that there are several enterprise specific chat platforms on the market today, there are many organizations still using consumer chat applications such as Skype for professional communications. According to Soroker, there are two major disadvantages of doing so.
“One is data integrity. Skype data isn’t synced perfectly between devices, so you could lose the entire history of your conversation with someone just by losing your phone or laptop, because Skype only stores a little bit of data on its servers and everything else is local to whatever device you use to engage in a conversation.”
As for the second disadvantage, imagine working on a project with one colleague, where you have done much of your communications via Skype chat. Now you need to bring in an additional person to collaborate on the project. “You can’t really invite some new employee into an existing project and just point them to a Skype conversation that has the whole history documented for them with links and all the documents. But in Kato you can, that’s a key differentiator that makes it applicable for true professional use across teams, across companies and really across the world,” explained Soroker.
Practicing What it Preaches
Kato’s entire team is distributed. It has employees in Russia and the Ukraine, spread across the US in California, Denver, Texas and Tennessee as well as a developer who travels throughout Southeast Asia. “We’re really living our product and I truly believe that without our product we wouldn’t be able to run our company,” said Soroker.
Kato Teams is available today as a cloud-based solution, with apps for Android and iOS.
Title image by Schubbel / Shutterstock.