By Alexey Chalimov
Popular messengers do not suit corporate intra-team communication for many reasons. Fortunately, various workplace software systems are available. Slack appears to be one of the most popular corporate communication apps. Millions of people who use Slack as a virtual office have found an opportunity to rethink the very approach to both workplace and workflow.
However, the available Slack competitors indirectly prove that Slack is not ideal. Consequently, this offers reason to strongly consider Slack clone app development. The second one is in sustained demand for Slack-like platforms amid the “new normal” of working remotely.
Let’s take a look at the best Slack alternatives to see whether the niche of workplace software still has room for new players.
Why do teams need Slack-like apps?
“A messenger on steroids” is how all Slack-like apps act and look. In contrast to popular messengers such as Telegram, Viber, and WhatsApp, Slack-like apps are designed for corporate communication only: nobody would use Slack for chatting with family members.
The very essence of any messaging app like Slack is in group workflows. You join your team when starting Slack, you leave your work when closing the app. This is convenient and meets common logic. We can draw an analogy with clothes: what you wear at home is not what you wear in the office, right?
All corporate messaging apps like Slack offer advanced functionality that group work needs – but more on that later.
What is Slack?
Many experts consider Slack a flagship for workplace software. To drive this point home, more than 350K employees use Slack for intra-company communication at IBM.
“Searchable Log for All Conversation and Knowledge” (Slack) has its roots in the Glitch computer game (2009). Salesforce acquired Slack for $27.7 billion in December 2020 when the app was showing a year-after-year increase in annual revenue by 57% to reach $630 million in 2020.
About 87% of regular Slack users (more than 10 million people around 150 countries, according to stats), agree that Slack improves their collaboration with workmates. Slack executives claim that their platform has appeared able to bring together people, applications, and data for 600K companies worldwide.
Best Slack alternatives
Demand always creates supply. Slack cannot remain the only corporate messaging solution if demand for such software exists. Let’s take a look at the best apps like Slack as follows:
1. Microsoft Teams
This is the strongest competitor of Slack as many users believe. Tight integration with hundreds of apps in the Office 365 software suite is the main advantage of the app. The solution can run on all major operating systems except Linux. MS Teams for Business have several paid plans in addition to a freemium version.
Up to 300 participants can do online calls and video that is three times as much as the freemium version offers. Sessions can last 30 hours in contrast to 60 minutes available for freemium users. The size of attached files for a single user reaches 1 Tb that adds another impetus to go premium: free users can add up to 2 Gb only.
It is up to each particular company to decide whether this Slack-like app is worth $12.5/user/month. The financial guarantee for 99.9% uptime hints that Microsoft deserves to be a responsible partner for large businesses. Small teams may hesitate about such a Slack alternative also because of the inherent deployment complexity: only tech-savvy admins are able to deploy the solution properly (quite typical for every MS product).
This alternative to Slack has appeared popular among gamers initially. Having both an intuitive UI and rich functionality has allowed Discord to become popular among diverse user audiences. Discord is opposite to what we see in MS Teams. Communities of free riders (freelancers, gamers, etc) rather than enterprise staff can benefit from the app.
The interface design is playful if not frisky, the emoji-focused communication stands far from “serious” corporate standards. Users can create “servers” – the communities (rooms, chats) through which they share their online experiences. The push-to-talk feature unavailable in any other Slack alternative tells that Discord is about enhanced communication rather than intensive teamwork.
This Slack-like app runs in web browsers, but mobile versions for both iOS and Android are also available. A paid plan of Discord does not differ too much from a free one: just a higher video resolution and screen-sharing features appear. Quite poor integration capabilities can be a further indication of the app’s main purpose: providing an easy way to communicate with no focus on business-specific tasks.
This messaging app provides the easiest way to migrate from Slack: all files can be simply exported from one app and uploaded to another. RocketChat creators seemed to offer just a cheaper open-source Slack alternative. The solution offers exclusive features in addition to various integrable apps such as Jitsi.Meet (for video conferencing), Google Calendar, GitHub, and Jira.
The project’s official website explicitly describes the app in comparison with Slack Enterprise to leave no doubt as to why the app has been created. Even though this alternative to Slack fits small and middle-sized teams mostly, large enterprises such as Samsung and CERN are using the app successfully.
Like the majority of Slack-like apps, Mattermost provides group messaging in various formats for all operating systems. The main advantage of the app is in the hosting types: both on-premise and SaaS deployments are available. The unlimited message history, rich integration, and a multi-language UI all make the solution a worthwhile communication app like Slack.
This is another Slack competitor that claims to be not worse than Slack but cheaper. The Pro plan ($4.5/user/month), however, indicates an “ideal” team of 20-100 members only. Flock is proud of its security practices while being hosted in Amazon’s AWS cloud. The app provides privacy of messages with the TLS 1.2 protocol of data encryption. The app functionality offers reminders, notes, and poles in addition to the common features such as chats and video calls. Flock runs on all major operating systems.
Monetization strategies for apps like Slack
Unlike other types of software, corporate messaging apps like Slack can earn money via nothing but paid plans. No pop-up advertising, no lead generation, no other monetization methods can bring money to them. However, the subscription model offers quite some room for maneuvering. The scope of features may significantly vary in both freemium and paid versions.
On the one hand, many Slack competitors offer lower pricing for similar functionalities. Some of them go even further when paid features add almost nothing special to the general functionality (Discord is this case).
On the other hand, corporations spare no money for feature-rich workplace software capable of improving operating efficiency. In the competition between Slack app alternatives with similar pricing, the ones having wider scalability, more hosting options, and clearer ease of use will have better chances of winning.
Working remotely under the new normal paradigm requires advanced tools of communication between teammates. Both Slack and similar messaging apps have proved that the demand for workplace software will go nowhere anytime soon.
There is definitely enough room for new players in the segment: no monopolists are available. Slack is doing well, but technical progress never stands still. Besides, the available competitors of Slack have not overheated the market yet.
If multi-billion capitalization along with multi-million annual revenue sounds appealing, why not create another successful messaging app like Slack?
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