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Quick Take: Microsoft Launches its Answer to Slack
by Daniel Newman | November 2, 2016
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Today Microsoft launched its long awaited answer to the highly popular Slack. Collaboration has become the center of the connected organization and Microsoft with their history of collaboration solutions certainly has their place. However, over the past few years solutions like Slack, Google Hangouts and Cisco with their new Spark solution have surpassed Microsoft in both their functionality and simplicity.

I had some thoughts before the event about what I was hoping to see. And then will follow up with some post event commentary after the announcement is complete.

  1. Microsoft is calling their new collaboration suite the “Slack Killer.” The reason Slack has grown so much in popularity is its ultimate simplicity. Microsoft enterprise collaboration has typically been anything but simple. This means they have two hurdles to overcome. First, can they make it truly simple and Second, will the “Slack User” of today migrate away because of what Microsoft is doing?
  2. It is very interesting that Microsoft, whose collaboration use has long been more dominant in the enterprise is so focused on Slack. Sure, they are disruptive, but their solution is still really more unified messenger than unified communication. If I were Microsoft I would probably be paying more attention to what Cisco is doing with Spark. The Spark solution is far more complete in terms of enterprise collaboration than Slack.

Here are my impressions from the announcements itself.

  1. For the Microsoft Enterprise user community Microsoft Teams offers a tremendous enhancement to the collaboration suite as the workflow of Microsoft Teams is far more in line with the way many people work today. This is especially true for the Millennial workforce whom have come up using pervasive chat and video over traditional email and voice communication.
  2. The incorporation of Social Content and the Microsoft Bot framework are going to be differentiators for the Microsoft Teams ecosystem. Today, these types of features are not generally available in the Slack ecosystem, although I presume they will match these features in upcoming releases.
  3. The elimination (massive reduction) of Email seems to be the overarching goal of the Microsoft Teams release. Outlook in its prime created an ecosystem for productivity, now our use of email has created a bottleneck that has almost paralyzed workers from focusing on productivity. The Microsoft Teams toolbox will help users to get out of their inbox and back to producing meaningful work. However, I believe this transition means a step backward before forward. New tools don’t solve workflow problems if the people are not onboard and comfortable with utilization.
  4. I predict that Microsoft Teams will be wildly successful within the Microsoft User community. However, I see little compelling reason for Slack Users or Cisco Spark users in particular to migrate away from their current ecosystems to jump on the Teams bandwagon. I do believe Microsoft entering this space validates Cisco Spark and will push Slack to up its game into the video and full collaboration suite.

Here are a few visuals I captured of the product including desktop and mobile view.

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Daniel Newman