Microsoft Teams: The Slack Competitor We’ve Been Waiting For

Microsoft Teams: The Slack Competitor We’ve Been Waiting For

Ask any employee about common productivity killers and email is sure to be a popular response. Initially released in 2013, Slack has been the go-to persistent chat platform among organizations. Slack promises to help organizations divorce themselves from email by providing a collaborative environment where users can communicate and share files. Users are given their own workspaces where they are free to create different channels to collaborate on various topics and projects. Slack was an instant hit with over 8,000 companies signing up for the service in the first 24 hours. Since launch, Slack has reached over 2.3 million daily active users with more than half a million subscribing to the paid service. With Slack’s astounding growth, many companies took notice. Microsoft even considered an $8 billion dollar acquisition of Slack. Ultimately, Microsoft decided to use that money to develop their own solution. At a Microsoft event in early November 2016, Teams was announced.

Teams is a very similar product to Slack. Both feature separate channels to help organize conversations into respective topic-groups. There are, however, a few small but key differences that set the two services apart.

Administration and Set-up

Slack is incredibly simple to set-up and configure. A user with no prior Slack experience can set-up and configure a Slack team in mere minutes from the website. This team will start out completely free and can be used from any of Slack’s native applications alongside other teams. While the ease of set-up is definitely one of the selling points for Slack, some administrators argue that Slack is too easy to set-up. Users are able to set-up and use Slack without any oversight from their IT departments. This creates governance concerns for many organizations. Teams circumvents these issues by being governed by corporations’ existing Office 365 administration settings. Slack recently released a new feature called Enterprise Grid to help alleviate these concerns. Enterprise Grid allows for corporations to have separate Slack workspaces that share and inherit settings from a central IT administration.

Active Directory Integration

Teams users sign-in with their Office 365 credentials. This means that 85 million daily active Office 365 users already have the necessary login information to use Microsoft Teams when it is enabled for their accounts. If these accounts are federated and synced with Active Directory users will continue to reap the benefits of single sign on when they use Microsoft Teams. By contrast, only paid Slack subscriptions can be set up to sync with Active Directory. Free tier Slack subscriptions require users to create new accounts specific to Slack. However, Slack users can be logged into any number of Slack workspaces for any separate organizations that they belong to. This means that a Slack user can be concurrently signed into workspaces for organizations such as, offices, non-profit groups, team projects, and even simple non-professional friend groups. Microsoft Teams allows for multiple teams within your organization, but you can currently only be signed in to one organization at a time.

Integrations 

In terms of integrations, Slack has the advantage of being the more mature platform. This means there are many more third party developers, applications, and integrations for Slack. However, Teams’ users have access to integrations with their existing communication and collaboration tools through Office 365. Chatting with Skype for Business users directly from within Teams is supported as well as native audio, video, and desktop sharing. Meetings can also be scheduled from within the Teams app and are automatically sent to the participants’ outlook calendars. Teams also supports embeddable Microsoft Office documents in the form of tabs. These documents can be viewed from within Teams and launched in the full Office applications.

Conclusion

With the release of Teams, competition in the collaboration space is definitely heating up. Both Slack and Teams provide their own unique features and can to help organizations become more productive. While Slack is still the clear leader in this space, Teams is an attractive choice for existing users of Office 365. It just might be the competitor that Slack has needed.

To see a detailed comparison of the two tools check out the table below. For more information on Microsoft Teams or Slack contact Adam Nolte or Ian Lovrich. West Monroe works with clients on their digital workplace initiatives by leveraging Microsoft Teams and other collaborative solutions offered by the Office 365 platform. Contact Kaumil Dalal to learn more on how West Monroe can work with your business.

 

Feature

Slack

Teams

Platforms

Web, Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Web, Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Language Support

English

18 Languages

Max # of Teams

Unlimited

500,000

Max Team Members

500,000

999

Searchable Message Archive

Free – 10,000 messages (with full export)

Paid – Unlimited

Unlimited

Active Directory Synchronization

Yes, paid feature

Yes

Two Factor Authentication

Yes

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Yes

eDiscovery

Yes, with paid enterprise grid

Yes

Private Channels

Yes, private channels within a team

Yes, team can be made private and all channels within team are private

Guests

Paid feature

In roadmap

Threaded Conversations

Yes

Yes

Direct Messages

Yes

Yes

Skype for Business Integration

Discontinued

Yes

Audio Calls

Yes

Yes

Video Calls

Yes

Yes

Desktop Sharing

Yes, with an add in

Yes

Conferencing

Free – Audio and Video 1 to 1

Paid – Audio and video in groups

Yes – Audio and Video

Schedule Meetings

No

Yes, integrates with outlook

External Application Integrations

Yes

Yes

Chat Bots

Yes

Yes

Custom Emojis

Yes

No

Microsoft Office Integration

No

Yes

1 Comment

  • John Vall April 13, 2017 2:40 pm

    Great article! Really excited to test all of the Office 365 integrations in Teams.

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