Top collaboration apps compared

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Top collaboration apps compared

Slack vs Microsoft Teams, Facebook's Workplace and more: which is best for your team?

Many businesses – such as restaurant and online wine merchant Nomad – swear by Slack as a way to improve communication and collaboration.

However, Slack is not the only game in town. Not surprisingly given Slack’s success, the collaboration market is now highly competitive. There are plenty of options that offer various interfaces and a wide variety of features.

Thankfully all have free or trial versions, so we strongly recommend trying as many as you can to see what best fits your budget and your team’s needs.   

Selecting the right collaboration tool can deliver real business benefits: by the reducing the need to travel; getting rapid responses from and to colleagues, including those in the field; helping remote workers feel part of the team; and eliminating internal email. Those benefits in turn can improve productivity, motivate staff and even reduce costs.

Here we’ll compare what Slack, Microsoft teams, Workplace by Facebook and Atlassian’s Stride have to offer. But remember, there are plenty of alternatives, including some from big tech companies, some that are open source, some that are part of comprehensive communications suites and others that designed for a specific need.

Here are several of those options:

Next: Slack vs Microsoft Teams vs Workplace by Facebook vs Stride

Slack

The basic idea behind Slack is to get all 'conversations' into a single workspace that's shared and searchable.

Nomad director Rebecca Yazbek told Business IT that Slack's simplicity made its adoption “an incredibly painless process”.

Another key aspect of Slack is that it was designed to integrate with other systems. Off-the-shelf integrations include the popular cloud storage services (Dropbox, Google Drive and more), CRM, videoconferencing, payment services (such as Stripe and PayPal), project management (Trello, for example), and many more – even Uber.

Tasks can be automated by via bots. Slack's own Slackbot answers questions about the program, among other things, third-party bots can perform tasks such as reminding you of colleagues' birthdays or delivering reports from databases, and custom bots can be created.

Slack supports video calling as well as chat. It can be used within a web browser, but there are also apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Restrictions on the free version of Slack limit it to 10 apps and integrations, searching no more than 10,000 messages, and one-to-one video calling.

The Standard tier ($US8 per month per active user) removes those limitations and adds group calling with screen sharing, guest accounts, and shared channels.

The Plus tier ($US15 per month per active user) is aimed at the enterprise market, adding an uptime guarantee, single sign-on, user provisioning/deprovisioning, and more.

Lower prices are available if you agree to be billed annually.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is targeted at Office 365 users, and includes chat, video calling/conferencing and screen sharing, with automated transcription of recorded conversations.

A major drawcard of Teams is that it is integrated with other parts of Office 365, including OneNote, PowerBI and SharePoint as well as the more familiar tools such as Word and PowerPoint.

Certain third-party products such as Trello and Zendesk integrate with Teams, and Microsoft's developer tools provide a way to integrate other business processes. Similarly, standard or custom bots can automatically deliver information on a push basis or on request.

The Teams app is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

Teams is sold as part of Office 365, which starts at $7.04 per user per month.

Teams is positioned as the successor to Skype for Business, although development of the latter has not ended.

Stride

Stride is Australia-based Atlassian's answer to Slack and the successor to its Hipchat Cloud service. It combines group chat, direct messaging, voice and video conferencing with screen sharing, and collaboration tools (initially task assignment and decision recording).

Client apps are available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS, and Stride is compatible with the major browsers.

An interesting feature is focus mode, which suppresses Stride notifications and activity for a chosen amount of time. At the end of that period, Stride presents a summary of what's happened while you were concentrating on a task.

Stride connects to other Atlassian products including Trello, Jira and Bitbucket, and integrates with third-party services such as Google Calendar, Google Drive and GitHub. It also makes provision for custom apps and bots.

Stride is currently in early access form, which means you can sign up to participate in the trial but there's no guarantee you'll be accepted. Atlassian has yet to announce when the service will be generally available.

But prices have been announced. Stride's free tier provides for unlimited users, chats, messages, and voice and video meetings. File storage is capped at 5GB, message history is limited to 25,000 messages, and no more than 10 apps or bots can be used.

The standard tier ($3 per user per month) removes those limitations and provides additional meetings functionality, group screen sharing, remote desktop control, and user management features.

Atlassian's Identity Manager (normally $3 per user per month, but free during the early access period) can be used with Stride and other Atlassian products to provide single sign-on, and enforce two-factor authentication and password policies.

Workplace by Facebook

The premise behind Workplace by Facebook is that everyone is familiar with the Facebook user interface.

It makes provision for sharing information with the entire organisation or a specific team, and there's the option of multi-company groups when you need to involve customers or suppliers (providing they are Workspace users).

The news feed feature purports to deliver the most important information in real time.

Chat, voice and video calling are supported, as is Facebook Live Video for broadcasting events to the rest of the organisation.

The standard version of Workplace is free.

The premium option – $US3 per user per month – adds management tools plus the ability to integrate with other tools, automate tasks and alerts. The total monthly charge is calculated on the basis of the number of active users within the organisation, not the number of seats purchased.

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