Building a WeChat Work Ecosystem with Apps & Mini Programs
ITC author


WeChat Work, the powerful internal communications app created by Tencent to foster business operations, offers many out-of-the-box features which can turn out to be extremely useful to your company. We already discussed the benefits this app brings in a previous article: the bottom line was that WeChat Work is a customized, business-dedicated version of WeChat, a tool tailored to your company’s needs. Pretty cool already, but we are just scratching the surface.

At its core, WeChat work is a powerful communication tool. But just like WeChat is way more than just sending messages, WeChat Work’s potential goes way beyond communicating: it provides you with the tools to consolidate all of your business operations inside the app and build your very own ecosystem. In fact, it lets you do just that via 2 main approaches.

2 ways to build your own ecosystem:

WeChat work lets you build your own ecosystem by bringing all of your modules and operations within the borders of the app with two different approaches: the first one consists of building in-house digital assets within the borders of the app through front-end assets - this works similarly, to a certain extent, to building Mini Programs and H5s in WeChat. The second consists of API connections, bringing your current tools together to optimize your operations in the back-end. APIs may not be visible to the normal user, but they are a powerful tool to connect all your operations together. Let’s have a closer look at these two approaches more in detail.

Front-end assets: Applications and Mini programs

The first means to create an ecosystem through WeChat work is by actually building front-end assets - simply put, these are assets that you can see as a user. There are two different kinds of assets that can be developed:

Applications: can be built quite easily from the admin’s section. The functionalities and interface are very similar to a WeChat Official Account. The main difference though is that they are private tools, built to serve your internal needs and available to your teammates only, while the WeChat ones are meant to be shared and grow your outreach and audience. Since they can be set up relatively easily, the scope of work of these applications can vary from being simple link-holders to full-fledged internal business tools. Once built, they will appear on the Workspace tab of your team members according to the admin’s directives.

Mini Programs: Like WeChat, also WeChat Work boasts Mini Programs. In WeChat work, they can offer similar capabilities, although they are once again more suitable for business-related operations since they are used mostly within your workspace, and therefore they should be used for business-related operations. While WeChat work applications can be built on the go, Mini Programs need to be developed and approved on WeChat public platform and then linked to your workspace using the admin dashboard.

What is the difference between WeChat Work Applications and Mini programs?

Applications and Mini Programs can be used in multiple ways and can adapt to the needs of any business (similar to how Official Accounts and Mini Programs can serve brands in WeChat in seemingly infinite ways). There is one main difference between the two types of front-end assets: Mini programs can be shared easily with external contacts that you have brought onto your workspace (as we explained in our previous article under the fourth benefit: Advanced Integration), while applications are only visible to your colleagues.

Where can front-end development bring value?

The main benefits of front-end assets consist of putting tangible tools at the service of all of your team. Thanks to WeChat Work's top-down management, access to the applications can be granted or gated to specific departments and employees. This way a company can develop, adjust or even remove access on the go. The Workspace tab of WeChat Work can become a portal for all of your team members which contains customized tools to carry out all of their tasks consolidating functions within WeChat Work.

API Connection

The second way to create that ecosystem is to use API connections (Application Programming Interface) an intermediary that enables two software ends to communicate. The result is streamlined and optimized business operations and a clearer alignment between all the teams involved, with different tools and software effectively able to “communicate” and exchange information automatically.

WeChat Work has its own set of APIs which unleash the full potential of the app and turn it into a one-stop shop for all of your internal operations. Some of these APIs let you seamlessly manage modules such as database, security, payroll, recruitment, reimbursement, and more. Some of the APIs include address book management, external contact management, message push, application management, corporate payment, material management, authentication, etc.

Where can API bring the most value?

While APIs are made for connecting an ecosystem, where they really shine is in their capabilities to consolidate data across multiple tools, and by extension, teams.

Most companies today have plenty of data and reports to map where they stand and if they are meeting their objectives. Yet, most struggle when it comes to cross-department tasks which require a clear vision of the accountability of each team and constant interactions among multiple parts.

This is where APIs show their real value. APIs act on the invisible, on connections, linking together your existing tools. Bringing together all of your duties and data within WeChat Work means consolidating all information between your departments within one tool, and clearly showing the stage and the accountability of all the operations involved. This empowers companies to have a clearer map of where they stand and what the best step to take is.

How can we use these connections in real life?

In the next article, we will deploy the ways WeChat work can benefit all the departments of your business providing concrete scenarios and solutions to common problems that many companies face. Talk again soon.

In the meantime, if you do not know where to start and to average it for your business? Take a look at our 6-step implementation framework!

Do you need some more time to think about it? Just stay tuned!