What You Need to Know About ByteDance’s Lark

5 min read.

As Covid-19 sweeps through the globe, businesses large and small have been forced to rethink their business models, test new ideas and make major structural adjustments to their status quos. Among these changes meant to curb the spread of the virus, organizations have been left with little choice but to force their employees to reduce person-to-person interaction by working remotely. It is therefore of little surprise that office collaboration tools have sprung to the fore, as companies attempt to replicate for their workers the experience of working in physical offices, without compromising on productivity nor connectivity.

According to data from the International Data Corporation, the size of the global collaboration software market has reached US$16.5 billion as of 2019 and is projected to grow at a rate exceeding nine percent from now to 2025. With telecommuting in overdrive, you would probably have used Google Suite or Office 365 somewhere down the line, given that they control 55.2 percent and 38.06 percent of market share respectively worldwide as of April 2020. However, surely there are better alternatives?

What is Lark, and Why Use It?

Lark is an all-in-one productivity suite. It is designed to aid business teams of all sizes to work as (if not more) efficiently than face-to-face collaboration. Its maker, Bytedance, is more commonly associated with Tiktok, the short video-sharing application that has taken the world by storm this season. There are actually two versions of the app, one in China (known as Feishu) which was originally started in 2016 and the other rolled out by Singapore-headquartered subsidiary Lark Technologies in 2019.

Here are three reasons why we think Lark should be your next go-to office tool.

1. Wide Variety of Special Features

What makes Lark special is its ability to seamlessly blend the best elements from different well-known applications into a single tool. Combining the slick design of popular messenger platforms like Whatsapp, with intuitive “point and click” prompts that promote fuss-free and convenient collaboration, Lark is Bytedance’s resounding answer to G-Suite, Slack and WeChat work. 

As a general overview of what Lark offers in comparison with Slack, take a look at the table below:

Comparison of features between Lark and Slack
Credit: Medium, Olivia Chan 

While previously offering only chat or call options, much like Skype or Zoom, Lark has upped the ante by adding cloud-based file management to its already sparkling array of features, as well as document and spreadsheet editing. New file-sharing options in the cloud will free up hard disk space in individual devices, so the days of “not enough storage” on one’s computer are long passé. Document creation and synchronization feature more than just the basic real-time editing and customized permission settings of Google Docs. They offer a whole host of slick, pre-designed templates, thus workers tasked to generate reports now face one less worry when it comes to order and formatting. Unlike Slack which requires integration with Google Docs for team collaboration, everything is built-in-one in Lark. 

Sample template as seen in Lark’s Docs function
Credit: Lark

Moreover, with Lark’s Calendar function, anyone can subscribe to multiple calendars at once, book a fellow colleague for an appointment and rearrange existing meetings easily.

Sample interview creation feature in Lark’s Calendars function
Credit: Lark

Lark is especially useful for international teams, as its messenger service contains unique automatic translation features which help to bridge the gap between teams which speak different native languages.

If these are not enough, consider Lark’s “workplace” tab, which is room to a whole range of free apps and services available for all business types. These include but are not restricted to health report apps, QR code generators, analytics and data visualisation tools and many more.

Non-exhaustive list of free apps available to Lark users
Credit: Lark

2. Huge Affordability

Lark provides features in its “Freemium” (free premium plan) that its rivals do not such as search within documents, markdown, and many more. At every tier, as illustrated below, Lark is cheaper than its main competitor, Google Suite. Google Suite may be more widely used at the moment, but for greater value-for-money, look no further than Lark.

Comparison between Lark and Google Suite
Credit: Medium, Olivia Chan 

In February this year, Bytedance offered enterprise users its premium Lark functions for free during the outbreak. It recorded a remarkable daily peak of more than 22,000 downloads on Apple Inc.’s iOS App Store across China, according to data from Sensor Tower. 

3. Strong Customer Security 

As an office tool, it is imperative that customer security is paramount, especially when confidential information is being exchanged over call or message. Lark has Secret Chat which contains end-to-end encryption and “burns” messages after a select time period, to ensure the most secure communication environment. Furthermore, Lark has these compliance certifications: SOC 2, (developed by the American Institute of CPAs), ISO 27001 (information security management system), ISO 27018 (code of practice for protecting personal data in the cloud and ISO 27017 (information security controls for cloud services). Lark users can hence be assured that all data is kept secure, safe and private. 

The Way Forward

Companies are at a tipping point. They must decide whether or not to ride the winds of change and utilise technology that could hugely benefit themselves and their partners. The economic ramifications of the pandemic are likely to snowball further. At the same time, telecommuting is set to remain a norm, at least for the next few years. Even after the virus drifts into obscurity and herd immunity is perhaps finally achieved, it remains to be seen if companies will ever revert to the regular office hours and office buildings that most of us have taken for granted. 

As Covid-19 has shown, change is the only constant in today’s world. ByteDance originally created Lark as an internal tool, but the division now has a team of more than 1,700 people and counting. CB Insights reported that ByteDance Inc. became the world’s most valuable startup in 2018, with its current valuation at a whopping USD$140 billion. It is because of change itself, and Bytedance’s ability to remain nimble and adaptable, that we may very well be seeing Lark take centre stage for many more years to come.