What are your most valuable collaboration tools during quarantine? For many organizations, Slack and Zoom at least make the top 5 list. But what if your business is looking for ways to reduce cost? Even if it seems like everyone else is using them, are these tools really your best options for staying connected?
While Slack and Zoom are great tools (we use them both heavily at Kinetix), they’re not necessarily the best choice for every remote workforce. Many businesses have solid collaboration tools built into the cost of services they’re already paying for. If, like most businesses, you’re already using Microsoft (Office 365) or Google (G Suite) for email, you probably have similar tools included in what you’re already paying.
Microsoft Teams is an all-in-one remote collaboration tool including instant messaging, video conferencing, and telephone. Microsoft has been implementing the best features of Slack and Zoom in this product for years, and Teams is built on solid technology from video chat pioneer Skype, which Microsoft acquired almost 10 years ago. While Zoom has some advantages in the videoconferencing space (most agree it has a better user interface and in-call functions, and as a smaller, nimbler company it has the ability to release new features more rapidly), Teams has some advantages, too. If you use Office 365 for email and calendars, you’ll find the built-in integrations with those interfaces very convenient (bonus points if you use OneNote, OneDrive or SharePoint and can leverage those integrations too). Microsoft is highly focused on the product right now (and should continue to be, given their focus on Office 365), so innovations should continue and the gap between Zoom and Teams should get smaller.
On the instant messaging front, Teams is a little behind in trying to catch up with Slack’s popular user interface and features and, like Zoom, Slack has a significant agility advantage, constantly improving and staying several steps ahead of its competitors. But Teams does an admirable job of emulating Slack’s best features and you’ll get by just fine using Teams for chat (especially if your team isn’t already addicted to Slack). And once again, the native integration with Microsoft services is a huge plus.
Google has also been giving Slack and Zoom a run for their money by devoting vast resources, post-COVID, to consolidating its confusing mix of different video chat and IM apps, combining many internal teams to emerge with two answers to Slack and Zoom: Chat and Meet. In many ways, the same pros and cons apply to the Chat vs. Slack and Meet vs. Zoom battle as you’ll find in the Microsoft Teams comparisons above.
Google may try to operate like a collection of startups, but it has always had a hard time focusing on competitive products in this space, and highly-focused companies like Zoom and Slack have been schooling them for years. Granted, Google has a lot more motivation now, but they have a lot of catching up to do and they may not have the long-term focus of Microsoft, Zoom, or Slack have in this area. That said, like many Google apps, the user interface of these services are user-friendly, and recent updates have made big improvements.
If your organization relies on G Suite for email and calendars, you’ll appreciate the integrations—you may have already noticed prompts sprinkled in Gmail and Google Calendar to entice you to use Meet. Even better for the many people who use Gmail for their personal email, these tools have recently become available outside of G Suite, which may soon attract a significant number of people who now rely on Zoom to connect with friends and family.
Finally, there are important issues of security and privacy. While Slack has a good track record, Zoom has found itself in hot water recently (see our recent post). Microsoft and Google are no strangers to these issues, so there are currently fewer security concerns around Teams and Meet, and the more cautious pace of the tech behemoths’ feature releases are probably an asset in this area (while being a liability in the speed of improvements).
Whether your organization has invested in Microsoft or Google for basic cloud services (the vast majority of businesses have one or the other), you’ll probably get more bang for your buck sticking with their built-in collaboration apps as long as you’re willing to forego a few bells, whistles, and the feeling of belonging that comes with using the same tools that appear daily in the memes in your social media feed. If you’re interested in more details about using Microsoft’s Teams or Google’s Chat/Meet to save money, improve security, cut down on system sprawl, or just show your willingness to buck the trends, Kinetix can help. To find out how email us at email@example.com or use our Contact form.