The best technology tools often come about by accident. The two most talked-about messaging tools for 2017 are no different.
Slack evolved from a video game startup team. The game failed, but the chat app they developed to communicate with each other now has more than four million users, and will reach an estimated $100 million in revenue by the end of 2016.
Slack’s fiercest competitor is Facebook’s Workplace, launched this past October. The idea for Workplace came about because teams and coworkers were already using it instead of email as their main communication tool. Why not turn it into a new revenue stream? One billion individuals are already using the social media giant. But, how does Workplace hold up in a software comparison? Can it hold its own next to an app that’s already dominating the market?
Who wins in a Slack vs. Workplace by Facebook showdown?
Money, Money, Money
Cost is always at the top of the list when it comes to performing a software comparison.
Workplace is the first time Facebook is venturing out of the ad-based revenue model. Companies will pay per user, based on how many users. Starting at $3 per user per month for companies with less than 1,000 users, $2 per user for organizations with between 1,001 and 10,000 users, and going as low as $1 per user per month for groups of over 10,000.
Slack does cost significantly more, but does offer a free version. However, the free version does have limitations, including the number of users it allows, as reported by Business Insider. The free version also limits how many messages are archived and the number of apps and service integrations. Once your group needs the more robust version of Slack, the cost increases to $6.67 per user for the standard version and $12.50 per user for the plus model. However, it can’t be overlooked that Workplace does not offer a free version at all. If the free version of Slack fits a business’ needs, it can be used for an unlimited about of time.
What About the Integration Hump?
New technology has adoption challenges. How do the platforms behind Slack and Workplace reduce the challenges? It can’t be ignored that one in every four people on earth already use the Facebook platform to connect with their friends and family. Workplace’s platform is similar, greatly reducing the onboarding process. There’s a tremendous opportunity for crossover. Just as a user might plan a friend’s party through Facebook, Workplace users see the same platform when planning company events. Send invitations. Check who is coming. Respond to questions, all within a familiar interface.
Facebook is bringing its popular Newsfeed to Workplace too. Company-wide updates, as well as cross-team communication can be accomplished through a simple status update. Slack has a similar function through its public channels. However, reading the messaging is more disruptive as opposed to the passive consumption model of the Newsfeed.
However, Workplace is lacking in integrations. While Slack offers seamless integration between Google Docs, Dropbox, Asana and hundreds of other applications, Workplace has yet to roll out any specific app integrations. However, that might not be a con in this software comparison. Facebook traditionally has a very customer-centric business model, focusing on usage and engagement first. We’re expecting them to listen to their customers, and add more integration moving forward.
Workplace Brings New Functionality
A software comparison can’t ignore that Workplace simply brings new functionality not offered by Slack. Workplace features live video, a great tool for remote meetings, company-wide announcements, or even streaming live events through Facebook Live. Audio calling can be done straight from the chat interface, helping teammates collaborate more effectively. Users can also create and join multi-company groups, allowing employees to include pertinent team members that may be at a different company. For example, a marketing project might involve a PR firm. Both companies can collaborate via Workplace, as long as the PR firm is also using Workplace. Facebook says Workplace is already being used by more than 1,000 companies and 100,000 groups.
We don’t mean to imply that Slack users do not have this functionality at all. Slack does offer Skype integration. However, Workplace makes it easy by having all the functionality in one place. In comparing the two platforms, it must also be noted that the free version of Slack does not offer group phone calls. Companies that need this functionality will automatically need to upgrade to at least the standard version, at $6.67 per user.
Functionality also differs when it comes to storage limitations. Workplace has no limits on file, photo or video storage. Conversely, Slack places limitations based on whether you have the free, standard or plus version.
Expanding to an Untapped Audience
Slack has traditionally targeted white-collar companies, and their platform still meets many of that audience’s needs. However, Facebook’s model is based on creating a social platform for collaboration that breaks these sector barriers. They are targeting people who don’t have offices or desks. From retail companies to manufacturing organizations, from baristas to ship crews. In fact, Starbucks is one of the 1,000 companies that participated in the beta version. Workplace is focusing on industries that don’t have access to traditional work tools, but still need an effective way to communicate. It’s likely these employees are already using Facebook on their phones. Transitioning to Workplace on their remote devices is easy and effective.
It might seem like Facebook is late to the business game. However, they’ve already trained billions worldwide to recognize and use their product. There’s no doubt their corner on the market will continue to increase.