With over 1 million WeChat mini programs launched within the space of two years, and 170 million WeChat mini program users per day, it's safe to say that mini programs have quickly become one of the most popular features of the WeChat platform.
Yet despite WeChat having firmly transitioned into the mini program era, the majority third-party apps being built for WeChat’s enterprise sister-app WeChat Work continue to be H5. Although WeChat Work has added mini programs to the third-party app workspace of its platform, few developers have begun to create mini programs for WeChat Work simply because there is more attention and opportunity surrounding mini programs on WeChat.
However, this is changing. In late 2018, Tencent announced it was restructuring to position itself to “drive the convergence of social, content, and technology trends; and to better serve enterprises, enhancing the connectivity between the “Consumer Internet” and the “Industrial Internet”.”
To us that sentence reads loud and clear: WeChat Work is going to play an increasingly larger role in Tencent’s growth strategy.
It already is. In fact, as of May 2018, the platform was serving over 1.5 million businesses across 50 industries, including over 80% of China’s top 500 companies. During the 2019 WeChat Pro Conference, the “father of WeChat” Allen Zhang shared that by the end of 2018 WeChat Work had doubled the size of its operations.
If mini programs have become such a focal point for WeChat, then it is only logical that, as part of the growth of WeChat Work, we will likely see a transition away from H5 third party apps and an increased emphasis on the development of the mini programs.
Now let’s take a step back and examine the role of third-party apps (both H5 and mini programs) on WeChat Work and share some use cases.
But first, what is WeChat Work?
As you most likely know if you work in China or do business with China, WeChat is frequently used for work purposes, however this is not what it was intended or built for, which often causes frustration for users.
As a solution, Tencent created a separate sister app called WeChat Work (企业微信) that integrates with WeChat and features numerous enterprise communication and contact management tools as well as specialized plugins and third-party apps to streamline business operations.
WeChat Work third-party apps
Just as third-party developers can create mini programs for WeChat, Tencent allows third-party service providers to create apps that can further augment WeChat Work’s capabilities. And unlike WeChat where users must search for mini programs, on WeChat Work, these third-party apps are centrally located in a type of app store under the Workspace tab.
These apps can be created either as H5 or mini-programs, and the two options are largely interchangeable. Originally the only option for developers was to build H5 apps, and Tencent has only recently added the ability to create mini programs, therefore the vast majority of apps on WeChat Work are still H5.
Let’s look at a couple of use cases for third-party apps (both H5 and mini programs) on WeChat Work:
This WeChat Work mini program helps brands seize sales opportunities. Using the app,brands can track how leads or potential customers are interacting with their WeChat Official Accounts and mini programs, and then reach out to those people with timely offers. For example, if a user keeps pulling up information about your products,the sales associate could reach out and offer them a demo or a free trial. In a retail scenario, if the consumer keeps entering a brand’s e-commerce mini program to look at shoes,a sales associate could send them a corresponding coupon.
Contact Management and Customer Binding(Salesforce)
With this mini program, businesses that use Salesforce can bind all their WeChat Work contacts with their Salesforce contacts, making it easier to manage leads. Sales teams can also view customer information from Salesforce on WeChat Work.
Aggregated 360 Customer Profile
This mini program empowers sales and customer service teams by giving them a deeper, 360 real-time view of customer activity. Associates can quickly and easily access customer data such as their activity log, transaction history, and profile all while having a conversation with the customer on WeChat.
WeChat Work is not only used to facilitate external communications, but internal communications as well. With this task management app, supervisors can assign tasks to their team members. Team members can enter the mini program to view their task list, check details of the task, and update the completion status. They will also receive task reminder notifications.
These examples are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the powerful benefits third party apps on WeChat Work can bring to enterprises. While H5 apps are sufficient for now, agile mini programs will provide a smoother, faster user experience, as well as more flexible design and functionality options and as WeChat Work grows, we are likely to see an uptick in mini programs built for the platform, for many of the same reasons that mini programs took off on WeChat.
WeChat Work is the next frontier for mini program development!