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.
Microsoft has rolled out an update to Teams that puts 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.MicrosoftCredit: 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.
Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50 per month, per user), Office 365 Business Essentials ($5 per user, per month), Office 365 Enterprise E1 ($8 per month, per user), Office 365 Essentials E3 ($20 per month, per user) and Office 365 E5 ($35 per month, per user).
In July 2018, Microsoft also unveiled a free Teams option, to combat Slack's free version. The free version supports up to 300 people, which should cover most small businesses. It offers some pretty robust features, including unlimited chat messages and search, 10GB of file storage, 2GB of personal storage and unlimited app integrations with 140-plus business apps such as Evernote and Trello. It allows users to collaborate with anyone inside or outside an organization. Also, it features built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups and teams. That's a lot more than the features you get on Slack's free version.MicrosoftCredit: Microsoft
Slack's former edge: Integration
Editor's Note: As of February 2019, Atlassian competitors Hipchat and Stride will be shuttered and sold to Slack. Atlassian has also announced it will be investing in the company, which opens the door to more integrations with the company's other properties such as Jira, Bitbucket and Confluence.
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.SlackCredit: 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.
However, Slack's free version allows for search of only the last 10,000 messages, 5GB of storage and 10 app integrations. It doesn't allow for guest accounts and videos are limited to one-to-one sessions.
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, Slack might be your best bet. Teams was traditionally only ideal if you're already paying for an Office 365 Business subscription. But, now that Microsoft offers a fairly robust free version, it makes the call a bit more sticky. That said, 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?
Additional reporting by Derek Walter and Anna Attkisson.