Chat-based collaboration software program is a must have in at the moment’s enterprise atmosphere, with Slack and Microsoft Groups the 2 main choices for the enterprise. The stakes couldn’t be larger — the pandemic made clear that distant work and collaboration are the way forward for enterprise.
Slack, which went public again in 2019, was purchased by enterprise software program big Salesforce in July 2021 for $27.7 billion. Till the acquisition, it wasn’t clear that Slack may survive towards behemoth Microsoft, which has a gazillion income streams to depend on and is giving Groups away free of charge in most Workplace 365 and Microsoft 365 plans. However now that Slack has sugar daddy Salesforce behind it, with a valuation north of $200 billion and annual earnings of greater than $20 billion, it could actually higher compete.
Microsoft govt Jared Spataro has mentioned that the corporate considers Groups to be as essential to its future as Home windows was to its previous. And that was earlier than the pandemic hit. It’s change into much more essential since then.
Certainly, Microsoft has been touting Groups’ rising person numbers with nice fanfare, citing 250 million energetic day by day customers as of July 2021. For its half, Slack has mentioned its personal customers are extra actively engaged, interacting with Slack on common 120 minutes a day and general taking greater than 5 billion actions per week. Slack mentioned its paid buyer base was greater than 177,000 in August 2021.
The winner of this competitors? You. There are two wonderful collaboration platforms from which to decide on, each of that are always getting higher as new options are added. However making that selection isn’t straightforward. The truth is, some enterprises have successfully chosen not to decide on.
To make your determination a bit simpler, we’ve in contrast Slack and Groups for enterprises in six classes: interface and usefulness; integrations; extra noteworthy variations; cell and browser apps; safety, compliance, and enterprise administration; and pricing. (Word that on this story we’re taking a look at Groups primarily as a piece hub based mostly on textual content chat, not at its videoconferencing options.) Right here’s what we discovered.
Slack vs. Groups: Interface and usefulness
Feel and look: Each the Slack and Groups desktop apps have simply navigated interfaces, with messaging entrance and heart as the main focus. There are some stylistic variations. Slack has a freeform, looser really feel that we like however some would possibly take into account a tad chaotic. Groups has a vaguely company look, which feels extra streamlined however generic.
Of the 2, Slack affords extra customization choices, with many alternative methods to tweak the sidebar’s look and what seems on it, comparable to whether or not to all the time embody all direct messages, the best way to kind content material, and so forth. By comparability, Groups affords solely three customization choices: default (gentle), darkish, and excessive distinction.
Navigation: Each shoppers provide their most important navigation in sidebars on the left-hand facet. Groups navigation is extra targeted on groups, whereas Slack places extra emphasis on channels, work areas that customers create round tasks, subjects, or groups.
The Groups sidebar contains icons for Exercise, Chat, Groups, Information, and relying on how the group units it up, Calendar, Calls, and extra. The Exercise dashboard offers an at-a-glance overview of the whole lot occurring in your group. You possibly can filter the feed by ‘My Exercise’ to see conversations through which you’ve been concerned, a helpful strategy to get targeted. Groups’ top-line navigation contains tabs for Conversations, Information, and a group wiki.
Slack’s sidebar contains hyperlinks to channels, threads, direct messages (DMs), and plenty of extra choices, together with “All Unreads,” which shows all unread messages in a single handy feed. The automated Slackbot, a chatbot for assist, can be simply accessible within the sidebar. Talking of which…
In-app assist: Groups affords a Assist icon on the backside of the sidebar with hyperlinks to Subjects, Coaching, and What’s New. Every tab is well-organized, providing simply accessible assist content material with out you having to look — though you may search, too, in fact. Particularly useful on the Coaching tab is that every article tells you the way lengthy it’ll take to learn, so you may determine earlier than clicking if it’s price your time.
However Slackbot, an in-app chatbot, will get our vote. It’s dead-simple to make use of. Simply kind a DM to Slackbot with a key phrase or totally shaped query and also you’ll (normally) get precisely what you want inside seconds. In dozens of queries, Slackbot solely missed the mark a few times in its reply.
Search: Each provide nice search capabilities. However Slack search feels extra strong to us, particularly in the event you’re used to fine-tuning Gmail search outcomes. For instance, in Slack you may search utilizing modifiers comparable to from:@username or earlier than:8/31/2021.
Messaging and chat: Communication by way of messaging is clearly core to every product, and each do a tremendous job on this division. There are some differentiating options to contemplate:
Each provide some textual content formatting capabilities when writing messages. (To see these choices in Slack, click on the “Aa” icon beneath the text-entry field; in Groups, click on the icon that appears like an “A” with a paintbrush over it.) However Groups offers a extra phrase processing-like expertise, with the talents to decide on a font colour, choose from three font sizes, insert a desk, undo and redo typing, apply paragraph types, and such. That could be overkill for some, however we respect these choices.
Each allow you to enliven messages with emojis. Groups affords extra choices natively, comparable to integration with GIPHY for animated GIFs, although you may add GIFs to Slack by means of an app integration.
Each provide numerous ranges of voice and video chat, natively and by way of app integrations, from inside the apps. With Slack, your greatest bets for probably the most functionalities are by way of integrations with Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts, or others. With Groups, videoconferencing is in-built, however you’ve additionally bought a number of different choices, together with the power to make use of Microsoft’s cloud-based Cellphone System to name folks outdoors your group. Relying upon how Slack or Groups is configured, you may file video chats and calls in addition to get transcriptions.
Notifications: Given how intrusive these apps can change into in the event you allow them to, it’s crucial to regulate when, how, and the way incessantly they notify you.
Groups offers you granular controls over what you’re notified about — chats, mentions, replies, likes and reactions, missed calls, voicemails, and so forth. You possibly can select the way you’d prefer to obtain these notifications, comparable to by way of banner and e-mail within the desktop app. You may also have messages previewed within the desktop app.
Slack doesn’t present fairly as many notification choices. However we respect the power to make use of completely different notification settings for a cell system vs. your desktop and to be notified at any time when somebody makes use of a key phrase you specify.
As for much-needed Do Not Disturb controls, Slack excels. You possibly can silence incoming notifications for half-hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, till tomorrow, till subsequent week, or for a customized time interval. You may also set a notification schedule, so that you obtain notifications solely throughout the hours and days you designate.
Groups additionally helps you to specify quiet hours to mute all notifications, in addition to designate quiet days, comparable to Sundays; nevertheless, these controls can be found solely within the Groups cell app.
With Slack, you may robotically push notifications to cell whenever you’ve been inactive on the desktop consumer for a specified time frame, from ‘as quickly as I’m inactive’ to ‘after I’ve been inactive for half-hour.’ Groups helps you to toggle cell notifications on and off for Mentions, Calls, and Conferences. You may also mute cell notifications in the event you’re in a gathering or utilizing the Groups desktop app.
Extra options: Each incessantly roll out new options. For instance, final 12 months Slack added the power to file quick audio and video clips which you could share with people or channels, in addition to Slack Huddles, which helps you to have fast, casual conversations with others in Slack. While you begin a huddle, you launch a reside, audio-only dialog. In huddles you may share your display screen and use reside captions.
For its half, Microsoft not too long ago made its “Fluid parts” accessible on Groups by way of chat. The “Fluid Framework,” of which Fluid parts are a component, connects Microsoft collaboration and productiveness apps by, for instance, permitting parts comparable to tables and charts to be up to date in actual time by completely different folks utilizing completely different instruments. In Groups, which means that customers can, amongst different issues, replace a shared to-do listing in Groups on the similar time a colleague is engaged on it in Outlook.
High takeaway: For us, the standouts within the interface and usefulness class are Slackbot’s in-app assist, Slack’s customization choices, and Groups’ message formatting. So, we’re giving Slack a slight edge over Groups right here.
Slack vs. Groups: Integrations
Whereas every product does so much by itself, Slack and Groups each depend on integrations with different apps and companies to increase their performance. There are some noteworthy variations to contemplate, significantly relating to integration with productiveness suites.
Groups is the winner for Microsoft 365/Workplace 365 app integration. Not surprisingly, Groups helps you to combine apps from the cloud-based Microsoft Workplace 365 suite. Whereas working in Groups, you’ve full creating, modifying, and formatting capabilities in Phrase, Excel, PowerPoint, and others and might collaborate with colleagues on a file in actual time. The deep integration with Microsoft OneDrive/SharePoint and Workplace functions labored nicely in our exams and makes a whole lot of sense for organizations embedded in Microsoft’s ecosystem. Groups additionally has deep integrations with Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s CRM platform.
Slack affords Microsoft integrations as nicely, together with Outlook calendar, and e-mail, OneDrive and SharePoint, however they don’t go almost so far as Groups’ Microsoft 365 integrations.
Slack is the choose for Google Workspace integration. Alternatively, Slack offers integrations with a wide range of Google apps, together with Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and Google Sheets. Groups doesn’t do any of that, and even probably the most fundamental of integrations.
Slack excels at Salesforce integration. Unsurpisingly, Slack integrates nicely with Salesforce, which purchased the corporate in July 2021. A Slack app for Salesforce helps you to view Slack messages related to a Salesforce file, ship Salesforce information to Slack, and arrange file alerts in Slack channels. And a Salesforce app for Slack helps you to add Slack messages to Salesforce information and ship related Salesforce alerts to Slack channels. Salesforce has introduced quite a few extra Slack integrations coming in 2022, together with with Salesforce CMS, Salesforce Schooling Cloud, and Salesforce Monetary Providers Cloud.
Groups integration with Salesforce doesn’t go as deep, though it does let Salesforce customers replace Salesforce information from inside Groups and chat in Groups about subjects associated to their gross sales pipeline and repair instances, amongst different capabilities.
Slack affords far more third-party app integrations. Slack (launched in 2013) had a working begin on Groups (which debuted in 2017), and it reveals when it comes to integrations. Slack integrates with 2,400+ business, third-party apps in comparison with about 700 for Groups.
Each Slack and Microsoft Groups allow clients to construct their very own customized apps and integrations. In keeping with Slack, 935,000 customized apps constructed by clients have been utilized in a typical week as of September 2021. Microsoft permits customized apps and integrations by way of its Energy Platform developer instruments.
High takeaways: For those who’re a ‘best-in-breed’ believer who desires the suitable software for the job and doesn’t like going too deeply into anybody vendor’s ecosystem, Slack is your most suitable option. That mentioned, Groups’ integration with Microsoft 365 apps is superb and needs to be strongly thought-about in the event you’re a Microsoft store.