Slack Alternatives In 2017

Slack (Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge) is a productivity tool for messaging and collaboration that became popular since 2014. Key business features include: groups, direct messages & search. Hence, people in a common office environment who used the app could easily reach for files like documents or spreadsheets. It also offered the convenience of integrating with other third party services like Dropbox, Heroku, Trello, Google Drive and others.

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As the market of communication and productivity apps continues to grow, many other alternatives are getting popular as well. Some of them offer features similar to the paid plans of Slack and certain features that are not present in Slack.

Here some Slack alternatives in 2017:

Plug: TeamWave – CRM, Project Management & HR Software for Small Business

Google Hangouts

Among computer based platforms for office communication, Google Hangout probably rates highest as a likely alternative to Slack. The instant messaging capability of the app allows one to find messages on one’s inbox as well as through the synchronized app on one’s smart phone. If a company has invested in Google Drive as well as Docs or used Gmail as the main official email communication platform, using Google Hangouts would make perfect sense. It also integrates with other Google apps easily as well as with conferencing applications like HipChat, UberConference, and ZenDesk.

Skype

If video conference calls and meetings are the major ways you communicate with teams and members of your organization, Skype can be the free tool that you use. With video and audio calls as well as messaging available on Skype that has desktop and mobile versions, this app can be a platform for communicating with your office colleagues. It also allows you to connect with others outside your office network which is not a feature offered on Slack. Another important feature of Skype is the ability to translate in more than 50 languages in near real-time.

Yammer

When you are looking at alternative apps for communicating internally at an organizational level you could look at Yammer as well. It is known as a freemium enterprise level social networking tool. In order to access Yammer network internet domain of users need to be provided and only approved email addresses are added to the networks set up by Yammer. With such an exclusivity added to the app, it becomes ideal for companies to take it on as an exclusive network for messaging as well as collaborating and to set up private networks and groups as well.

Fuze

This is another app that enables easier team meetings. That is the key feature of this app – the ability to hold video meetings on a conference level. Hence, the app provides all the flexibility of messaging instantly as well as audio or video calls to make collaboration with a team or several internal teams quite simple. It also enables synchronization with third party services like Microsoft Outlook, Lync, Google Calendars, Box and others. It is ideal for professionals who are on the move and need to connect with their colleagues or team members.

Glip

This is another app that compares well to Slack. This app allows you to do different activities on the same platform, from messaging to organizing files, making video calls, scheduling calendar and sharing to do lists. The team messaging function makes it possible to share information across groups and video conferencing makes meetings easy to organize on this platform.

WhatsApp

Although this app remains on the top of the list for consumers, it is used by many office teams as well. Though it is a freeware, it offers end to end encryption that solves the need for security in terms of office communication. It allows text messages as well as video or voice calls. However, in spite of the synchronization option available in the desktop app for mobile app, this is primarily a smartphone based application. There is a news that the soon WhatsApp will be launching its full-fledged enterprise app.

HipChat

This is another app that competes with Slack very well. Separate chat rooms can be easily created on this platform to keep discussions private between different groups. It is promoted as a web service that provides instant messaging as well as private online chat rooms. It is possible to set up one-on-one topic wise chat or group chat rooms. The cloud-based file storage system makes it similar to Slack as well as the searchable option which allows a history of messages to be searched through. With such features HipChat is the closest tool that has similar features to offer as Slack. The basic app is free though certain additional features require a subscription fee to be paid to the company per month.

Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat is an open source chat platform that comes with multi-platform (web browser, desktop app and mobile app) support and tons of customization options. That means your team can deploy it and configure it exactly the way your company requires. Here are some of the features that Slack just doesn’t offer:

  • Audio and video conference
  • Built-in live-chat for websites
  • Text math rendering
  • Screen-Sharing
  • Self-registration
  • Theming and branding

Let’s Chat

For the small teams who wish to focus on a convenient chat platform, this app built on the idea of “Bring Your Own Server” can be useful. It is a self hosted platform that comes with MIT license and REST-like API. Let’ Chat enables one-to-one chat, chat history search, private rooms and much more. A company can self host the app on their servers or deploy it on platforms such as Docker, Heroku, Vagrant and Cloudron. As a free app, this is easy-to-use and cost effective for small teams.

Mattermost

This is yet another open source tool that can work as an alternative to Slack. Discussion topics can be organized into channels on the dashboard. This platform allows customization as per the needs of a company. One of the highlights of the app is the benefit of threaded discussions. This is one of the most coveted features of the app that helps teams and members to pick up conversations and look for information in past conversation threads as they wish to. It has a Team Edition plan that comes for free while the Enterprise E10 and Enterprise E2 are priced at $1.67/user/month and $6.67/user/month respectively.


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Workplace – Facebook at Work Review

workplace

Facebook’s foray into cloud-based enterprise software has started with the launch of a service called Workplace (previously known as Facebook at Work). After 2 years of private beta testing, this communication and collaboration software currently has more than 1000 companies as customers (RBS, Starbucks, Renault, etc.). Facebook is also accepting applications from companies that are interested in using this service at Workplace website. Read on to find out if this will be a good fit for your business.

Plug: TeamWave – CRM, Project Management & HR Software for Small Business

1. Value Proposition

The primary advantage for Facebook is its familiarity. For any enterprise SaaS app, one of major challenges is user onboarding, as users find enterprise sofware complex to use in comparison to consumer software. But, in case of Facebook people are already familiar with the product so the learning curve will be minimal. That said enterprise software requirements are quite different from consumer apps’ requirements. Here are two significant benefits that Wokplace offers:

  • Companies will be able to reduce or do away with internal collaboration tools like intranet, telephony systems, video conferencing and distribution lists.
  • Companies will be able to ingrain transparent and simplified communication at all levels by truly embracing digital and mobile.

Let’s now go through the core functionalities offered by Workplace.

Groups

These are similar to the Facebook groups present in the consumer app. In the enterprise setup, groups can be formed on the basis of locations, departments (sales, marketing, logistics, etc.) and wtithin these groups users will be able to share updates.

Collaboration with External Companies

Workplace lets you collaborate with external companies via ‘multi-company groups’. Basically you’d create a group that will be shared with multiple companies and users will be able to share information that needs to be, but at the same time keep other information as private.

News Feed

The news feed will show the posts created by the employees.  For example, a designer could share her work in a group and ask for feedback via comments.

Work Chat

This is the enterprise version of Facebook messenger. It’ll help users quickly connect with team members and share updates, files, etc.

faceook-workplace-messenger

Live Video

Most of the customers of Workplace have requested for live video streaming feature. It helps users stream live to everyone in the company right from the mobile phone. For example, employees of Eimskip (a shipping logistics company) can now connect with their ship crews using Live video.

Security

Workplace offers enterprise grade security features like single sign-on (SSO) and secure identity management. Customers retain ownership of the data their employees post into Workplace, and have the option to export that information. Apart from that Facebook follows third-party industry standards set by organisations like Cloud Security Alliance.

2. Pricing

Facebook believes that it can keep individual employees engaged with the product, so it’s betting on a pricing plan that charges companies according to “monthly active user” instead of charging a flat rate per company, says Workplace director Julien Codorniou. Facebook has also deployed progressive pricing – more the number of active employees, lesser is the per user subscription fee.

workplace-pricing

Workplace is free for non-profit organisations and educational institutions.

3. Partnership

Workplace has two types of partners:

  • Service partners guide the customers while adopting Workplace for their organization. Deloitte Digital, Edelman, CSC, TBWA are some of the prominent names among the service partners.
  • Identity partners (G Suite, Microsoft Azure, okta, one login and PingIdentity) help companies securely set up and manage deployment.

4. Customer Profile

In a recent interview, Workplace director Julien Codorniou said that Facebook’s support for widely distributed teams is providing great value to big banks and retailers supporting dozens if not hundreds of satellite branches and offices. Royal Bank Of Scotland’s 100,000 employees have signed up for the service and in India, Yes Bank has onboarded their employees. Yoma Bank in Myanmar will use Workplace by Facebook to replace fax machines and newsletters.

The top five countries using Workplace are India, the US, Norway, UK and France.

Although most of the current customers of Workplace are multinational companies or large enterprises, we do believe that it can be valuable for small businesses as well.

5. Competition

Workplace competes with other collaboration apps on various fronts. The ‘Feed’ feature is similar to Convo, Salesforce Chatter, and Microsoft’s Yammer. The Messenger app competes with internal communication tools like Slack and HipChat and the live video feature could compete with Skype.


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