Effective communication is the backbone of any great workplace, and various apps boast the ability to meet all your team's communication needs. Slack has emerged as a major player in the intra-office communication space. Its unique chatroom structure allows workers to communicate quickly and efficiently in an organized platform.
Microsoft rolled out Teams, a program geared to directly compete with Slack, to the world in March 2017. While it also featured the chatroom-style interface, it lacked a lot of the integrations and other features that made Slack so efficient and simple. Almost a year after its release, Teams has become a popular communication platform for businesses enrolled in an Office 365 Business subscription plan.
Earlier this week, Microsoft introduced an update to Teams that could put it on par with Slack. The software can now integrate with a host of different apps, and a simplified search bar means that it's easy to access important information. This new update has shifted the discussion of Teams' potential value to businesses.
Microsoft Teams' game-changing update
Microsoft has solved the third-party integration problem and baked in some other features to make its software an intuitive communication option for businesses everywhere. Teams now integrates with a wide selection of apps and services, including Trello and SurveyMonkey. Users no longer have to take screenshots of content and upload them into Teams to start a discussion. Instead, you can quickly attach content using a process similar to adding an emoji or GIF to a discussion. You can add apps via the Teams store.
Teams also includes an improved search bar at the top of the interface, which allows for chat-wide searching and information integration. You can search using the bar and then insert a result into a chat. You can also take quick actions using slash commands in the search bar, like changing your status or adding a user to a team.Microsoft Teams is easy to navigate and has a good layout Credit: Microsoft
Another marquee feature of Teams is the ability to create conversation threads within a chatroom. Instead of getting lost in a flurry of messages seemingly all about different things, you can directly respond to a message or topic in a thread under the original thought. This can help workers avoid wasting time catching up on who is responding to what message.
The program still integrates with Office 365 apps as well, making Teams an ideal solution for businesses with Office 365 Business subscriptions. Skype calling is built into the platform, and there are both mobile and desktop versions of Teams. You can record, transcribe and save Skype meetings to the cloud. It integrates with the company's voice assistant Cortana. Plus, you can now get inline message translations. Teams is also free with any Office 365 Business subscription. The new third-party integrations and improved search bar make Teams an ideal communication app for businesses already using Microsoft products.Microsoft Teams plays nicely with Office files thanks to the program's deep integration with the company's other services. Credit: Microsoft
Slack's former edge: Integration
In the past, Slack had an advantage over Teams due to its easy third-party integrations, user-friendly design and vast array of shortcuts. Slack was among the first of its kind when it was released and has set the standard for office communication platforms. It features both desktop and mobile versions, so users can stay in communication with their team wherever they are.
Administrators can set different permissions for each room in the platform, so workflow can be managed across different teams. Slack also features a search bar and other keyboard shortcuts that allow you to navigate the program without reaching for your mouse.Slack sticks to a clean interface that makes it easy to see what you need. Credit: Slack
Where Slack shines, however, is with its third-party integrations. The program has a long list of apps you can add, so you can discuss content across a variety of platforms right in Slack. The service primarily integrates with Google Drive, making Slack an ideal partner for a business that uses Google Drive as its main content management platform. Slack offers a free version, a standard version at $6.67 per user per month, and a plus version at $12.50 per user per month.
The best service for your business depends largely on which platform you use to manage your content and other apps and services, Google or Microsoft. If you're already using Google Drive, then Slack is probably your best bet. Teams is ideal only if you're already paying for an Office 365 Business subscription. Using Slack with an Office 365 subscription doesn't make sense – why pay extra for a service that is already free with your subscription package?
Despite Teams' update, Slack still has the edge because small business owners can add it for a reasonable cost. To use Teams, you need an Office 365 subscription. If you're running a business that doesn't use Microsoft apps and services, paying extra for Slack is your best option.
Additional reporting by Derek Walter.