When looking for a professional walkie talkie app for your business use, your requirements will be quite different than that of a normal user. Due to the usage in a professional setting and with many co-workers from different departments, you will need to know the additional features that you require when recommending your choice.
There are many “Walkie Talkie” or voice communication apps available but not all are enterprise or business ready. Many features that are important to the enterprise user are rarely found in most consumer walkie talkie apps.
Thus I have written this and a series of post to elevate your understanding of the requirements of a Enterprise Walkie Talkie System so you are able to choose the right app during your evaluation
Here are some Enterprise features that you should expect in a Walkie Talkie System and I have categorized them into the following categories:
Part 1: The walkie talkie app
Transmission time of less than 2 seconds
Walkie Talkies needs to be fast and live. The app should operate in an Instant mode where the sender should not need to finish his entire message before the receiver can hear him.
Many consumer walkie talkie apps do not operate in Instant mode and even WhatsApp, the largest messaging app, does not operate in Instant mode. So do check for Instant mode as a basic requirement.
If a walkie talkie app is in instant mode, once the sender starts speaking, a receiver should be able to hear what they say in two seconds or less. There are varying speeds for each app so do test them out to see how they perform.
Group Broadcast of at least 50 people
You will probably need the group broadcast feature. Check that the maximum group size can be at least 50 people and that all 50 people receive the messages at about the same time. The maximum difference should be two seconds.
You will find that migrating from traditional Walkie Talkies to Smart Walkie Talkies is that you have Private mode which allow you to just talk to one person. Private model increase privacy and also keeps the noise from disturbing other people.
Also check how easy it is for you to switch between different channels and modes. The managers or supervisors would most likely be the person whom need to speak in multiple conversations.
Use Phone Buttons as PTT
Being able to use one of your phone buttons as the PTT is invaluable as you can use it without needing to touch the screen. It is also very useful when operating in a wet environment or when you have gloves on. You will also be able to operate the PTT without needing to look for the button on the screen.
For event organisers or hotel staff, having headset support is essential. With the use of a headset, you maintain the privacy of your operations and upkeep a professional image.
The basic requirements is to allow PTT via the headset button. Extra features include Bluetooth headset support and being able to change channels via the headset.
Not all co-workers will be using a Mobile Phone. Transportation and Logistics companies typically have Operations Support in the office and behind a desk. They would usually already have a desktop or laptop and rely heavily on typing instead of talking. Having a desktop version great enables them to communicate via PTT and also send text and emails from their seat.
Part 2: User Management
In this part, we will highlight a mundane but yet important part of User/Account Managment features that the IT manager or Operations Managers will need.
Enterprise Applications typically differ from consumer apps in the user management space as companies expect a certain level of control. This control is even more important when the users might not be that experienced with apps on smartphones.
Having employees leave or changes in a department usually also requires a change in access control. This needs to be managed by the administrator rather than the user as the company wants to ensure it can be done without the co-operation of the user.
New User Sign Up
For Walkie Talkie Apps, users of course need an account to identify themselves. However not all of the Walkie Talkie Users have corporate Email accounts. Because of the nature of work they do, they did not require an email address previously.
Thus a sign up flow requiring email address would be a significant issue. The company also has to pay an email address that is rarely use.This would seem to be a travestry to IT folks who are accustomed to having multiple email address that are also free but it is important to make it easy for users accounts to be created without email addresses.
Most consumer apps use phone number with SMS verification for new user sign up. Again this is another issue for the IT manager when they need to create many users or import the staff list. The phone number also assumes every co-worker has a corporate phone number which is not the case.
In the Communication system that you buy, ensure that you can create new users without depending on email address or phone numbers.
Consumer communication apps auto match you with your friends by scanning your address book or Facebook login. This makes it easy to find someone that you want to speak to.
Enterprise Apps however certainly do not expect you to “make friends” with all your colleagues or have their contact numbers saved. Instead Enterprise Apps should have a directory of all the personnel using the same app and created by your Administrator. When you login to your new app, all the possible users should already be added for you without needing to send connection request.
More advance systems should allow you to integrate to existing company directory systems like ActiveDirectory or Google Work Contacts.
Walkie Talkies are great for Group Broadcast. However company administrators needs to have the ability to remove group members when required. This is often the case when users resign or change departments.
Walkie Talkie Apps should allow official and unofficial groups. Official groups are rigidly controlled by company adminstration. Unofficial groups would be more akin to consumer chat apps groups where users can be added and removed by their own preference.
Devices like Walkie Talkies are shared across multiple people in different shifts. Thus one user account might not be sufficient. Users expect to pick up their device from a colleague, login and start their work day where they left off yesterday.
Consumer Apps typically assume that the account is personal and that the device is only used by you. Logout buttons are hard to find as they want to you stick around forever. And once you do logout, all your data is erased.
If you are sharing devices, look for Apps that allow multiple sign-in on a device without destroying your colleague's data who will use the device after your shift.
Part 3: Billing and Deployment
Deployment without going through App Stores
Once you have selected a Walkie Talkie App, you will need to be able to distribute the app to everyone who needs it. Assuming the app takes care of user management in an enterprise friendly way, the question now is how to get the App onto everyone’s phone.
Consumer apps typically expect a user to go the App Store and download the app. However not all employees have access to download apps on their phone. They might not have added their billing details or do not even have a iTunes/Google Account.
Enterprise apps should allow sideloading of Apps via providing a download link, APK or integrate with a Mobile Application Tool.
Enterprise Apps should also keep everyone up to date. You can roll out an app but how do you get everyone to be on the same version? Enterprise Apps should prompt users for updates when required and even enforce an update via the update methods of downloading APK or Moble Application Tool.
Business Billing rather than In-App Purchase or Paid Apps
Consumer apps feature in-app purchase to enable pro features. However In-App purchases require the user to have their own iTunes or Google Account linked to a credit card. This makes a roll out of application difficult as you just need one employee to not have their Google or iTunes Account setup properly to stop your entire deployment.
Enterprise apps typically offer payment methods where a company can pay for the service for all their employees. This could be done via Credit Card billing or Invoicing. If your company allows the use of a credit card, that would be great. However many companies do not have credit cards available for employee purchases.
Look for Vendors whom can extend Invoicing arrangement to your company so that you can quickly get the app setup. For budgeting purposes, you could also ask for a prepaid account where you can pay upfront so your finance do not have to process small amounts every month.
Predictable Expenses for Budgeting
Companies typically do their budgeting cycles by years. This makes it important for Apps or software to charge a known and predictable amount. It is difficult for the employee to ask for more once the budget has been fixed.
Some Walkie Talkie apps charge by usage and type of features used. Look for an app that allows you all the current and future features based on the number of active users which should remain quite constant.
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