Options for Communications and Remote Meetings
The current leading platforms for remote meetings and business communications are Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom. In the context of Teams and what to compare it to, Slack and Zoom must be thought of as a package because Teams has similar functionality to Slack and Zoom combined. Where Slack is primarily for text chat and the systems it integrates with, and Zoom is primarily for audio and video conferencing, Teams can perform both of these functions. That being said, there are reasons to use Slack and Zoom over Teams and vice-versa.
Which Should I use for Remote Meetings?
The main limitation of Teams is that it does not integrate with non-Microsoft platforms/products. This means that if you use GSuite/Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc. Teams will not be able to interface with these services. Slack, on the other hand, has the ability to integrate with almost every email service, scheduling service, and cloud storage provider including Microsoft Office 365.
What this means is that if you only need a communication and conferencing service internally and you already have Office 365, you should be using Teams as it is included with most Office 365 subscription packages. If you need to have the ability to message and conference with people outside your organization, or you use services not provided by Microsoft, Slack and Zoom are your best options.
It is important to note that the free version Teams can be made to work without having Office 365 but it is limited unless you purchase Office 365 licenses. Slack will work with Office 365 products for no additional cost than the base price, but if you’re already paying for Office 365, Slack and Zoom will be additional expenses.
How Do They Work?
The messaging side of these platforms is simple on the surface. Within your organization or workspace (your company’s platform for Teams and Slack respectively) there are three main functions: chat rooms, direct messages, and platform integrations. For both chat rooms and direct messages, the entire history of what has been said can be seen by anyone with the permissions to see the channel.
Teams or Channels (in Teams and Slack respectively) are chat rooms that multiple users have access to. For example, a chat room called “Sales” can be where only the salespeople and their supervisors can send messages, talking specifically about sales. The creation and naming of these rooms is entirely modular, and however many can be created with any name and permissions for who can and cannot see the contents or send messages. This is similar to an ongoing email chain with a single, broad subject.
Aside from the chat rooms, any user can send a direct message to any other user. Direct messages can also be sent to a group of users that can be defined by any single user. Calls can be made to these direct message users/groups. This is the functionality that is most analogous to email, only differing in a lack of a defined subject.
In Teams and Zoom, the audio and remote meeting conferencing is fairly simple in functionality but the specifics in starting a meeting, inviting people to the meeting, or joining a meeting will differ. Once invited to a conference, video is always optional for people joining if video is enabled for the meeting. During the creation of the meeting, permissions can be set for who can enable video, who can be heard by others, and whether or not a specific user can cause everyone to be muted while talking.
Both Teams and Slack have an extensive list of platforms and services that can be integrated into the system. For example, in Slack, Dropbox integration will allow users to directly share files from their Dropbox to a chat room or user, which would then allow the receiving users to add the file to their Dropbox. It is also possible to integrate your calendar or scheduling platform into Teams (only Outlook calendar) or Slack, which would allow you to enter a command that could add an event to your calendar and automatically invite other people in the chat room to sign up for the event. For more information on integration (since the list is very long), search in Google for something like “Google Drive in Slack”.
Is There a Standard for my Industry?
There isn’t exactly a standard for any industry, but which platform you use might depend on other industry standards. If your company needs to use a security compliant email provider, you might not be using Office 365, and this will mean that Slack and Zoom are the better options.
If there are other standards that you must be compliant with, it is important to look into whether or not Slack and Zoom or Teams are compliant. It’s also possible that while the base functionality of a platform is compliant, there might be other optional functions or add-ons within the platform that are not compliant.
Will I be Able to Set Up One of These Systems Myself?
While it is certainly possible to set up Slack, Zoom, and/or Teams yourself, the intricacies of the platforms can be fairly daunting when starting out. If you feel like you need help with getting something set up, or deciding which platform to use for remote meetings, Grundig IT is here to help.