Slack and Teams

[Microsoft Teams Overtakes Slack With 13 Million Daily](Users http://bit.ly/2Y0FB3S)

This is hardly surprised given the treasure trove that is Microsofts o365 Enterprise agreements, where it bundles Teams for ‘free’.

From one perspective Teams is equitable(ish) to Slack if you’re comparing features, but Slack still wins hands down on UX and extensibility.

Slack’s Problem

The biggest hurdle for Slack is how it migrates its predominately technical user base to be more organisation-wide. Something they’re working on, but even they will admit it’s a big challenge. This is why they’ve been pushing their aligned workforce strategy (which I think is exactly the right thing to do).

They know they need compelling use-cases which show off nontechnical workflows, something they’re working on really hard (especially as soon they’ll have a workflow builder you don’t need to code) but can they get non-technical teams to buy?

Hopefully! Now it has oodles of cash from its DPO it certainly has the money and opportunity to push a massive campaign into the heart of the enterprise.

Teams’ Problem

Teams have to ditch its ‘Skype for business replacement’ label and prove itself as a new digital collaboration tool shifting mindset from DMs and video conferencing to an open collaboration platform.

In my experience of a Teams deployment to a company of 5000 people currently, the most used features are:

  • Video Conferencing (Meetings)
  • Direct Messages

Most conversation happens in private channels DMs or private groups, and moving communications into open channels requires work, and modelling good behaviour.

Yes, this shift needs to happen within the corporate mindset but that is facilitated by tools, and pitching Teams as the new Skype for business bakes in the old, closed channel behaviour.

Also, there are odd limits on the number of users and channels per team.

Currently, only 5000 people per team which limits a large organisation from having a company-wide team for announcements and only 200 channel per team and that you’re not able to have a mix of open channels and private channels per Team.

These restrictions are limiting when you’re creating focused areas for discussion, and have a genuine need for some private spaces.

This is a legacy of having built Teams on o365 groups, rather than building new, for a new model of collaboration. I have a feeling this architectural decision will bite them in the arse.

Microsoft’s answer to the company-wide Teams argument (for more than 5000 users) is Yammer; yet another tool to fragment communication.

Shifting the mindset

Teams biggest strength is its footprint (anyone with an o365 subscription) but its weakness is how it’s marketed to replace a product which reinforces close communication channels.

Slacks weakness is its footprint. It’s small (requiring IT departments to pay for it in addition to other capital expenditure) but its strength is that it forces an open communication channel nudging user/org behaviour change.

Changing behaviour is where the long game is.

Personalised Enterprise Workflows.

To make the platforms work for the enterprise the development environment has to support internal app creation.

Currently is much, much easier to build apps for Slack than it is for Teams.

Slack’s API is consistently documented and essentially in one place.

Microsoft’s Development environment is spread across graph API (beta), bot kit and connectors making it surprisingly difficult to develop for. I expect this to consolidate over the next few years, but for now, it’s hard.

Summary

If like me you believe the future of work is digital collaboration in remote/distribute teams then how Slack and Teams evolve will have a massive impact.

For now Slack is king and as an organisation, you should seriously consider the true cost of ‘Free’ you may have to pay for Slack, but you will be investing in an open digital culture which will pay dividends in the long run.

Teams could get there, but it’s foundations are based upon a series of a closed communications tool, and it’s gonna take some time for this tool to open up.

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