(This post originally appeared on Inc.)
Just a few short years ago, Microsoft Teams didn’t even exist. Slack was the go-to application for corporations big and small that wanted to bring together their email, chat, video, messaging, and document management workflows under one roof. Slack delivered– and still delivers–a great solution.
Slack organizes and files conversations and documents with powerful search capabilities so that people in workgroups can better track all conversations going on with their customers, prospects, and anyone else working on projects. Slack is an easy to use, yet potent, tool that integrates with more than 1,800 additional external services and has spawned a developer community that has created a massive library of more than 500,000 custom applications. Slack says it now has more than 12 million daily active users at more than 150,000 organizations worldwide, including employees at well-known brands such as Intuit, Lyft, Oracle, and Target. If implemented the right way, your company will do great with Slack.
But what about Microsoft? Slack had a head start in the collaboration space (and there are certainly other worthy competitors in the same space that also deserve a look). But, literally, out of nowhere, Microsoft has emerged to become Slack’s primary foe. Why?
It’s because Microsoft Teams is being offered up to the more than 200 million users of their Office products worldwide, and the application pretty much has most of the same collaboration and communication functionalities that Slack has, in an interface common to Microsoft users. And Microsoft is charging aggressively forward.
Just last week, for example, the software giant announced deeper email and calendar integration with Outlook, and plans to expand the application’s ability to do polls, surveys, and other similar communications. These enhancements are all in addition to the company’s moves to streamline navigation and pull together views of information in one place to improve its users’ productivity. Microsoft’s significant gain in market share (the company says Teams has more daily active users — 13 million — than Slack) has been so dramatic that some analysts have been reporting shareholder concerns over Slack’s longer-term strategy, and the company has seen its stock price drop since its June IPO.
I don’t see a world in the next few years where just about every growing business — big or small — doesn’t have a collaboration platform. Like an order entry or accounting system, a database that consolidates all messaging will be commonplace. Yes, there are plenty of other players in the field. But the field is really dominated by just two companies. Which means that you’re going to have to make a choice: Will it be Slack or will it be Microsoft?
Don’t worry. That choice is easier than you think. If your company is a Microsoft Office 365 shop, then you’re going to go with Microsoft Teams. Period. It’s easier, and it’s likely already included in your subscription. If not, then you’re probably going go with Slack. Period.
That’s because–like a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord, or a TGI Fridays or a Chili’s, or Delta or United–the features of these two competitors are evolving to pretty much be the same. Of course, the product management teams at both Slack and Microsoft (just like their counterparts at Toyota or Delta) will give you a list of reasons why their product is better than the competition’s.
But, other than some cosmetic differences (user interface, ways to customize, unique circumstances, etc.), there really aren’t that many differences between Microsoft Teams and Slack when you consider the typical ways companies use these products. And as the platforms continue to mature, and both companies keep a close eye on each other’s developments, they’ll become more and more interchangeable. Just like–no disrespect–a Camry or an Accord, or the ribs at TGI Fridays compared with those at Chili’s, or a flight on Delta or United.
So, yes, your company will need a collaboration platform. That’s a given. But if you’re comparing Microsoft Teams and Slack, don’t get all caught up in the features. Let the software vendors battle that out. Instead, focus less on what the software will do and more on what the company making the software plans to do. Microsoft is positioning Teams to be a focal point in its Office 365 strategy, so if Office 365 is your platform, then Microsoft Teams is definitely your choice. If not, then Slack is probably your choice.
It’s as simple as that.