- Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, teams of employees can more easily communicate with each other, thanks to modern messaging apps like Skype and Slack.
- Back in April, Slack revealed they serve approximately 10 million users daily. Comparatively, Skype has approximately 300 million monthly users.
- Slack and Skype have free versions, though they are both limited in what they can do.
- As a business messaging solution, Skype for Business has been replaced by Microsoft Teams.
Though the technology has existed in some form since the 1960s, instant messaging (or "IM" to anyone who remembers the '90s) has been among the fastest and most convenient methods for millions of people around the world to communicate. With the ability to instantaneously send messages between co-workers and teams, instant messaging programs like Slack and Skype have become the standard-bearers of modern office communications.
Collaboration in the workplace depends on easy communication between co-workers, so it's only natural that programs like Skype for Business and Slack have become some of the most used internal communication tools. Slack revealed that it serves roughly 10 million users per day, while Microsoft reported that 300 million users were on Skype per month back in 2016.
Skype's user base has steadily declined in recent years. The final nail in its coffin could stem from the September 2017 announcement that Microsoft was replacing Skype with Microsoft Teams, which we have reviewed. If you'd like to see how Microsoft's newer messaging application stacks up against Slack, check out our comparison of the two apps.
With the right internal communication tool in place, your business can benefit greatly from a more collaborative environment. Which application you choose for your business ultimately depends on a range of factors. Both Slack and Skype for Business offer text-based communication and video conferencing, though video chat is not available in the former's web version. If you're in the market for more robust video conferencing options, check out our recommendations for the best video conference services.
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To help you determine which communication solution is best for your small business, here's a breakdown of how Slack and Skype for Business compare with one another.
As with nearly anything business related, you're going to incur some costs whether you choose Slack or Skype for Business. Both applications have a monthly fee, with each service tier coming with a larger price tag as more features and functionality are added.
The basic version of Slack is free, but it's limited to two-person voice and video calls, a single general chat channel, 10 app integrations, and only the 10,000 most recent messages are searchable. Paid versions start at $6.67 per active user, per month if billed yearly, and $8 per active user, per month when billed monthly for the Standard tier. This service tier comes with group voice and video calls, unlimited searches, unlimited integrations, priority support, and better security. Slack also offers its Plus plan that costs $12.50 per user, per month when billed yearly, or $15 per user, per month, if billed monthly. That service tier comes with more advanced IT features, such as single sign-on, a 99.9% uptime guarantee and 24/7 support.
If your business is very large or in a highly regulated industry, Slack offers an Enterprise Grid plan, which comes with unlimited workspaces, support for data loss prevention, e-Discover and offline backup providers, and HIPAA-compliant message and file collaboration tools, among other things. Pricing for this tier requires you to contact Slack's sales team for an estimate.
Skype for Business pricing
On the other side of the coin, Skype for Business doesn't have a pricing plan since it was replaced by Microsoft Teams. Skype can still be downloaded, though, so if you're not hurting for all the latest features and just need chat and video communication, you can download the program for free. As a part of the Microsoft Office 365 for Business plan, Skype's replacement, Microsoft Teams, is available for as little as $5 per user, per month with an annual commitment.
Messaging and calls
Being able to chat with anyone on your team is the name of the game when describing both Slack and Skype for Business. Both programs excel in that category, but they do have some differences that set them apart from each other.
Messaging and calls on Slack
Slack offers one-on-one and group messaging via direct messages and multiple channels. Channels for those who are unfamiliar with Slack can be most easily described as separate chat rooms. These rooms can be created on the fly for any need, whether it's for a specific team and its members or a group of co-workers that want to chat about the latest sports game. Compartmentalizing certain conversations allows employees to stay focused on the task at hand and stay on topic. Users can also hold individual and group audio and video calls. One nice feature in Slack is your own private channel – you can message yourself to set up a to-do list, organize tasks or set reminders.
Messaging and calls on Skype for Business
Similarly, Skype for Business allows for instant messaging and one-on-one and group audio and video calls. How long it will offer those services remains to be seen, as it remains a redundant program to Microsoft Teams. Still, it's a viable program that can connect you with anyone, especially with its ability to make telephone calls (if you have enough credits to do so).
Broadband internet has given companies around the world the ability to forego the fax machine and share documents among teams within seconds. Both Skype for Business and Slack allow for quick file transfers, making most tasks easier as a result.
Slack collaboration tools
Slack makes it easy to collaborate via the aforementioned channels. Using hashtags to organize projects, teams and other topics to keep everyone in the loop, Slack also lets users easily share all types of files simply by dragging and dropping them into the app, or by syncing the service with file-sharing services like Google Drive and Dropbox. Slack conversations and shared files are fully archived, so users can quickly search for what they need at any time.
Skype for Business collaboration tools
Meanwhile, Skype benefits from its connection to Microsoft during audio and video calls, thanks to its integration with the Office suite. This includes screen sharing and the ability to record meetings. There's built-in instant messaging, PowerPoint upload features and a whiteboard. You can also hold meetings with up to 250 people, record those meetings, take quick polls or add attachments to a meeting.
As a small business owner, you likely already use multiple business applications to make sure things run smoothly. With so many programs running at the same time, it's important that they all work together. Integrating one program with another not only saves time, but provides some ease of mind as well.
Supported integrations on Slack
It's through its integration capabilities that Slack really shines. Once set up, users can get all their notifications, as well as most of their work done, within the Slack platform without switching between apps. Integrations include Salesforce, Dropbox, Twitter and GitHub, as well as other communication tools like Zoom, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts. Additionally, Slack is fully integrated with Google Drive, which allows users to share and view Google Doc, Sheet or Slide files during calls and within conversations.
Supported integrations on Skype for Business
Since it's fully integrated with the Microsoft Office suite, Skype for Business can already interface with ubiquitous programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook. Users can even set up and schedule meetings through Skype's integration with Outlook.
Which is best?
Which service is best for you depends largely on your business. Either way, you should also consider Microsoft Teams, which is now Microsoft's flagship business communication tool. Since Teams has a free version for very small businesses, possesses much of the same capabilities as Skype, and it's also included with Office 365 subscription plans, the legacy communication tool's days could be numbered.
Without actively going into how Microsoft Teams compares to Slack, it's hard not to point to the latter program as the superior product in this instance, though your mileage may vary.