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Slack vs. Microsoft Teams

Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan speaking. I have Tommy Ryan here with me. How’s it going Tommy?

 

Tommy:Going well.

 

Danny:Good. I can spot your sock from here. Nice some poke-ma-dots.

 

Tommy:I did it just for you, Danny.

 

Danny:Well, look at this. Look at this. First you think I’m just wearing black socks but then you work your way up a little bit and it gets a little nutsey.

 

Tommy:Nice.

 

Danny:Gets a little crazy, some different colors. I’m so used to wearing traditional colors. I’m wearing a little bit of fluorescence which is not like me but, hey, got to kick it up a notch every once and a while.

 

Tommy:Yeah, but you’re being a little safe there with that much black until you see up.

 

Danny:Today let’s talk about Slack versus Teams. It seemed like for a while there that …

 

Tommy:Squirrel.

 

Danny:Yes, where … Try to find the nut. It seemed like for a while there that Microsoft was just going to … I guess they were trying to buy Slack.

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Danny:It seemed like they were trying to go after them and then I guess that fell through. Then, probably Sasha said, “Well, we have this thing called Skype and it has a lot of the things that are similar. Then we have this thing called Yammer.” Oh my gosh, yes. This is the latest thing to come out. I just wanted to talk to you about some things at a high level for someone who’s looking at this initially comparing the two. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Again, just trying to keep it high level. Maybe later on we can dive further into it especially as this is a new product we can get into some more details. Just hit me at a high level. What it is Teams? I mean, we talked a little bit about what Teams will … Comparing it to Slack. Is it the same thing that we’re trying to do with Teams?

 

Tommy:Slack, a lot of people unless you’re a tech type person, you’re probably not too familiar with Slack. It is starting to enter into the general business world where people look at it as a real-time communication tool. It’s very similar to IM. If you’re used to using something like Skype or using some instant messenger, even in your personal world say Facebook Messenger, it’s the ability to go back and forth similar to an SMS texting. It’s more in a group or team fashion that you can have these messages and tag them in a way that people know what is the topic of the conversation, they can join that conversation.

 

Danny:Great. Good. We’re kicking the tires internally with this you first created a group just to get some folks up and running. The Teams have come out, recently, it was within the last couple weeks. Is that correct?

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Danny:Okay. Then for Slack, Slack’s been out for years. How long has Slack been around for?

 

Tommy:I did not do my research.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Tommy:I would say Slack has been out there for … I’d say probably around two years.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Tommy:Somewhere in there, plus or minus a year.

 

Danny:Yeah. Nice, nice. Is this put into place to be something that compliments Slack, or is this a replacement for it, or any ideas on that?

 

Tommy:Well, this is where you start saying, “High level, high level Tommy.”

 

Danny:Oh, high level, Tommy. At a high level. I thought you were making fun of me at first, it’s like you were saying the high level way too many times.

 

Tommy:No. I think it’s interesting how you can see the history of how this arrives and how … I think Microsoft over and over is trying to make their services more consumable and giving you more options which is … It has its pros and cons.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Tommy:You have Yammer as that social platform. Yammer is more like a bulletin board. I think people ended up running over to Slack because they wanted more of that real-time collaboration experience in an activity stream, and be able to have that water cooler conversation that people can participate in, and go and catch up, and look at the history, and join in in a conversation, in a team-based conversation. Yammer really does not serve that well. It’s more like a bulletin board. They’ve looked at Teams as a response to, “Oh, we thought we had social with Yammer,” but there’s this desire for people to do things like Slack and it seems like we’re not filling that need.

 

We heard this with Skype for Teams where Teams originally came, I think, anticipated as a new product called Skype for Teams. I think they moved it in a direction of the Office 365 Group’s track, which is, “I want to have consumable parts of Office 365. I want to have a calendar, I want to have conversations, I want to have files, and I want to have Notes. Let’s be able to bring all that knowledge and information into a conversation.” That’s where the Slack part comes in is on Microsoft Teams, they have a conversations piece. That’s one piece of many things, but it is that competition to Slack where you can have the context of a group people and you can have a stream of conversation that feels like you’re texting in a group text setting.

 

Danny:At a high level you have … I guess term wise I’m going to plead the fifth here with not knowing exactly what all the terms are. I know with Microsoft Teams, I guess, you group people around a team and then the equivalent in Slack would be what?

 

Tommy:That’s where it’s a little bit different.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Tommy:When you look at inside of Slack, they have channels and you use a hashtag and the name of the channel and people can go into a channel and have conversations include channels with using the hashtag for the channel. That allows you to hop around at a high level, a very flat tag structure to filter into conversations that matter to you.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Tommy:Then when you look at the equivalent over in Microsoft Teams is they first start with this security context called a Team. That provisions out an area for conversations, an area for files and notes, and a area for calendars. Within the team, you can segment that information by using, they call it, channels … Which over in Yammer is called topics. It can be a little bit confusing, of course, but at the end of the day what Microsoft is saying is when you start having conversation … I can see why this makes sense. In a very large organization, do you really want everybody to be able to get to everything, or do you want to go ahead and say initially this is who should be in this conversation?

 

Then within the conversation I have sub-topics or, in the world of Microsoft Teams, channels that I want to be able to focus the conversation. It is more enterprise think-y where it’s saying, “Let’s secure things, so start with a security context versus making it open to the world. Then let’s give people the ability to segment that information through, what they call, a channel.”

 

Danny:Then within Teams you have this concept called “Bots,” right?

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Danny:It looked like that this T-Bot is one that you can ask questions and like a help bot. I’m sure they’re going to add a way of adding other bots that are in there. Microsoft will make their own. There will be third party bots. Is there an equivalent over in Slack at all?

 

Tommy:Yes. In Slack, I don’t know if you remember when you first joined Slack, a bot was working with you to get you to set-up your profile.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Tommy:It’s really to try to take you through some scripted things to have an assistant in there to use the chat to get information. It’s, in some senses, like Amazon Echo.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Tommy:You can ask a question and it comes back, and if it understands your terminology and what you’re asking for it will reply back to you. I mean, you’ve got bots out in the world of Twitter. It’s almost like a person but an automated person that takes part in the conversation and can help.

 

Danny:Within Teams you have connectors as well where if you want to add some like I added to the marketing one. I added something for our website so it will update in the Team if it ever goes down. Is it also called connectors inside of Slack or does it have some other name?

 

Tommy:They’re integrations.

 

Danny:Integrations? Okay.

 

Tommy:Yeah, and … Maybe there’s a term there within Slack. I can’t remember.

 

Danny:Okay. They have something that’s similar to that because I know it pretty much works with everything. Right?

 

Tommy:Yeah, and Slack, of course, is ahead of Microsoft in the number of integrations but I’m assuming that gap will be bridged pretty quickly.

 

Danny:Yep. For the time being it will be … It looks like this will be a similar situation to us using Dropbox where we continue to use the third party service for a while, try it out one drive for a while and then slowly started moving things into one drive. Right? This is probably something similar. We’re using Slack, it’s working out well. We might find some scenarios that it works out well for us to use Teams but just take it one step at a time. Right?

 

Tommy:Yeah. Ideally, we can bring it into Teams if the conversations in Teams is good enough.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Tommy:I think what’s going to be tough is, I don’t think Teams is going to be as elegant and simple as Slack.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Tommy:Slack has a lot of polish to it, very clean simple UI. It’s trying to accomplish something and do it very well and be very focused around that conversation piece. Teams is a lot more than that. The conversation piece is, say a tenth, of what that is trying to do, and you maybe could say less than a tenth. With that being not the main focus but just one of the things that it has, it’s not going to be as simple and it’s going to be a little more cluttered with other things you can do inside of Teams. Hopefully they make it good … It looks good. Maybe it is good enough, we’re still kicking the tires. You can tell they put a very good first foot forward with it in terms of it doesn’t look like just an idea they’re throwing against the wall. It looks like it’s something that they’ve been maturing internally a little bit longer than normal in getting it out there and giving it a good running head start.

 

Danny:Nice. Yeah, you were right. It was called, I guess in Slack, they call it integrations and apps. I just took a quick look and looked at it. You’re right, it was integrations. It seems like they’ve got a bunch of different categories if I go look at our Slack … Everything from bots to different departmental apps and things like that.

 

Tommy:Right. I love what Microsoft’s doing with cloud-based integrations. Inside of Teams is not the first you see that. You saw it in Office 365 Groups. That had connections, I think it was called. Then you see it within things like Flow where they’re going with workflow but not being workflow just for Sharepoint, but workflow across the mainstream services that you would want to have business process to flow back and forth.

 

Danny:Just so I can explode my brain and pick up the bits off the floor, can you add a … A connector for Slack? I’m assuming you can. Can you add a connector? No, it doesn’t look like you can. I was going to say.

 

Tommy:I don’t know if they’re.

 

Danny:I don’t know what that would do to me.

 

Tommy:It’s very meta.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Tommy:Is that what they say? The kids say? Very meta.

 

Danny:That’s what the kids say. Yeah, I was looking through here real quick just to see if you could add a connector for Slack. I don’t even know what that means. Okay, I’m going to leave that one alone. Let’s end on a positive note.

 

Tommy:Think about it, if you had some team members that are in Slack and there’s a conversation going on there and they had certain integration with how they get things done that is unique to Slack. Then you have the greater team that’s working with Files and Calendars and they have conversation channel there that they could feed in the Slack channel to throw in their conversations to join in the greater conversation. I saw you integrate Twitter. You have Twitter coming into your marketing feed for conversations, you can have Slack feed from a team that’s doing marketing related activities in Slack.

 

Danny:Yep. Cool. Anything that else that … I’m not going to say the word. I didn’t say it. I held it off, I held it off. Look at the control. Anything else you would like to add to this conversation as far as someone looking at Slack versus Microsoft Teams?

 

Tommy:Slack versus Teams, I think at a high level Slack is very focused, and simple, and does a great job at team collaboration. Then Microsoft Teams is embracing that and going further to be able to take that conversation and act on content that’s enterprise content, so things that are stored in Sharepoint, and secured properly, and have retention policies, and all that good enterprise-y stuff. I think in the Slack world all that content outside of the conversation you have to get concerned with in terms of, “Do I need to retain that? What do I do with all the information?” There’s not as many controls in place that you would see with Office 365.

 

If you don’t care about the images that are attached to a Slack conversation and just the miscellaneous things that come up, then it’s not a big deal. Slack you might have teams that say, “It’s a way we feel productive.” Then maybe there’s integration between Slack and Teams where you can have that feed back into your team’s conversation.

 

Danny:Great, great. Thank you Tommy for taking the time to do this.

 

Tommy:Sure.

 

Danny:We’re interested to hear what’s your experience. We’re sharing some of our raw notes with you as far as a new product that’s coming out. If you’re listening to this on the ThreeWill site, definitely leave a comment. We’d love to hear your experiences so far.

 

Tommy:Please.

 

Danny:Please do, please do. Interaction is good. We love it. We’ll respond back to question as well. If you have any questions that we could possibly answer or anyone else at ThreeWill can answer, please leave a comment. That’s it for today. I hope everybody has a wonderful day. Take care. Bye-bye.

 


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