Real-time Chat Tools Smackdown: Microsoft Teams vs. the World
Imagine if real-time chat apps could meet in a wrestling match, where they'd battle for domination. The solution that offered the most bang for its buck would win. Instead of spending hours researching all the tools on the market, you, the systems administrator, could simply wait for a winner to be declared and give your recommendation.
But unfortunately, such a battle wouldn't help you determine if a piece of software has the features that meet the unique needs of your own company. For that, you have to research the full list of specifications, and likely even read reviews and comparisons. As the person everyone relies on to build and maintain a strong technology infrastructure, it's important for you to stay abreast of the latest tools.
Chat tools seem to be all the rage. There are new kids on the block and old favorites, as well as offerings from established names and startups. This guide will help you, the IT administrator, answer the question: What chat tool should we use?
Microsoft Teams is first because your end users will probably gravitate toward it. One of the biggest benefits is that it works with the Microsoft solutions you're already using, which means less work for you. In addition to easy setup, you can recommend our online training course on the essentials and equip your end users with the skills to start collaborating.
Channels and conversations
Videos calls and screen sharing
Private direct messaging
Compatibility with a variety of devices
Powerful integration across all Microsoft Office products
When comparing Teams and Slack, it's important to realize that Teams is more of a feature, built into Microsoft Office 365. On the other hand, Slack is a full-fledged project, designed specifically to help teams collaborate. You can chat, share files, and update others on the progress of your projects, either from a PC or mobile device. But it's important to pay close attention to the cost before committing because you'll be required to have the most expensive plan to access file storage – a feature you can get for free with other tools. Slack recently added the ability to conduct video calls and screen sharing, a big bonus when competing with Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts (among others).
Open and private channels
Open API to build your own integrations
Private direct messaging
Google Hangouts is often a natural choice for a group chat forum because so many organizations use Google products including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive. But in a business environment, it's important to choose the tool with the best features, rather than avoiding the need to create another password. If you want to use Microsoft Office 365 products, this might not be the best choice, because Google is naturally going to steer you toward using its own office productivity tools.
Video calls and screen sharing
Private direct messaging
Group chat and calls
Customizable alerts and settings
Easter egg animations (just kidding. They kind of drive us nuts too.)
Skype is synonymous with "video chat," but the app can be used for text-based and audio communication as well. Is it the best feature for collaborating with your team? One of the best features of Skype is its integration with Microsoft Office 365, which makes it easy to launch a call from directly within Outlook or screen share a PowerPoint presentation with clients. If you're looking for a day-to-day interoffice chat tool, however, this one should be at the bottom of your list.
Free Skype-to-Skype calls, anywhere in the world (but watch those time zones!)
Voice and video calls
Text messaging from the comfort of your own keyboard (your thumbs will thank you)
File and screen sharing
At one time, Yammer was a serious contender in this space. However, it has fallen out of favor in recent years, especially with so many competitors. Yammer is designed to be an enterprise social network, rather than a straight-up chat tool. However, Yammer has made a smart move by building in Microsoft Office 365 integration, making it a top contender for Microsoft Teams.
Groups and external collaboration options
Inbox notifications (if you like that sort of thing)
Office 365 integration
HipChat is a rapidly growing company in the collaboration solution space, and it's ideal for teams that want to fully embrace this type of tool. This software is the perfect choice for a business that wants to encourage constant communication between team members. If your team is remote, this may be the best choice for you, because your team members can launch a video chat or instant messaging session at the drop of a hat. Microsoft Office 365 integration is available through an add-on.
Unlimited group chat rooms
Drag and drop file sharing
Secure guest access
One-click screen sharing
Robust integration options
Chat tools can empower your end users to stay in touch without having to see each other in person. We'll likely never see them go head-to-head in a wrestling match, but we can look at each platform's features and find one that fits within our own organization.
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