Slack’s cloud-based set of tools and services, available on a ‘freemium’ basis, has long been a popular choice. However, it is rapidly being superseded by Microsoft Teams, launched in 2017. Here’s why you should consider it for your business.
One way of thinking about Microsoft Teams’ core features is to categorise them as focused on either communication or working practices. On the communication side, the platform enables instant messaging, voice over IP, videoconferencing and public switched telephone network (PSTN) conferencing, whilst also allowing third party services such as MailChimp and Facebook Pages to submit information to individual topics of conversation. On the working practice side, Microsoft Teams provides a shared workspace for a comprehensive suite of Microsoft Office applications, such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel and so on, whilst also operating as a hub for virtual meetings.
Additionally, a number of bots are built into the platform, in order to deliver enhanced productivity such as polling groups of colleagues or creating scheduled reports from sources like Salesforce. Furthermore, the platform comes with high-level security and compliance built in; all data is encrypted at rest and in transit, and compliance standards such as ISO 27001 are met as a matter of course.
In short, then, Microsoft Teams offers a compelling range of collaboration features, enabling disparate teams and remote staff to work closely together, and enabling organisations to keep tight control of the flow of projects. Whether your business is growing rapidly, or simply wanting to empower more flexible working practices, it’s a good choice.
However, this in itself doesn’t dramatically separate Microsoft Teams from Slack and similar tools.
An extension to Office
To understand why Microsoft Teams stands in a league of its own, let’s return to that suite of Office applications to which the platform offers collaborative access. For a start, since the majority of businesses already use at least one Microsoft Office application, using a collaboration platform that seamlessly integrates with those applications as opposed to a third-party platform is a huge advantage. Microsoft Teams operates, crucially, as an extension to the Office portfolio – specifically, to the cloud-based Office 365. If your business subscribes to Office 365 then you get Microsoft Teams as a matter of course. There’s no additional cost, no additional contract and no additional installation. We really are talking about the click of a button.
This means that Microsoft Teams can be seen not as an additional IT investment to debate and weigh up, but rather an additional benefit of the shift to Office 365, which most organisations should be seriously considering anyway as part of a general cloud migration path. Migrating Microsoft Exchange to the cloud and deploying Office 365 is one of the most straightforward ways for organisations to begin harnessing the scalability and flexibility benefits of hybrid cloud computing – and now it comes with sophisticated collaboration software built in.