Categories
business startups

Slack vs. Teams

The most important tool in a company’s arsenal is communication. Companies that are effective at communication are able to get things done quickly and efficiently. Now that everyone is working remote, having great tools to be productive is more important than ever.

I’m sure you’re busy so this isn’t going to be an in-depth review of every feature but if you’re looking at Slack vs. Teams then I’ll talk through the pros and cons of each product and how you should pick the best product for your company. I’ve used both Slack and Teams for multiple years and while each has strengths each also has weaknesses.

Communication tools reflect the culture of the company and the way the culture and leaders of the company choose to communicate. If your culture is broken, or your company is dysfunctional, tools aren’t likely to fix it. Also if the leadership of an organization doesn’t lean-in, the tools will be less impactful and there are tons of examples of either Slack or Teams being rolled out and not really embraced by the executives of the organization.

If you’re going to take the dive into these tools, really try to get the commitment of all-senior-leadership to try to use these tools in favor of long email chains and countless meetings. This time in history is unique because remote work cultures are really well suited for these types of tools. Organizations that take the plundge now should commit to the tool for at least a few months to really understand the organic benefits.

If you’re new to these tools, it’s important to understand how they may be different from your existing communication tools.

  • Like SMS, it can be a real-time conversation or you can respond to message and questions asynchronously 
  • Unlike SMS, it’s oriented around topics/groups
    (and you can easily leave or silence a topic/group)
  • Unlike Email, group conversations are automatically persisted so new people can get the benefit of past discussions and decisions.
  • Lastly… conversational groups are best when they can be created and disbanded organically by the organization itself. This is bottom up communication, not IT led communication.
Five minute feature overview of Slack and Teams

Pricing

While Slack was a leader in this space, it wasn’t the first chat based collaboration tool. Campfire, IRC and HipChat have been around for years before it. What made Slack successful was their timing and freemium model that appealed to early stage startups.

The freemium model allows anyone to setup a slack for their company for no cost and gets an initial Slack experience that works with all the bells and whistles while keeping a history of up to 10,000 messages. This led to rapid growth of Slack and a lot of adoption from early stage startups.

Microsoft Teams on the other hand is part of the Microsoft Office suite, so while it’s not free, it’s often perceived as free because it’s included as part of the Microsoft 365 Business suite.

The basic paid version of Slack is $6.67/user/month and the paid version of Microsoft Basic Business is $5/user/month.

Recommendations

If your organization is using the Microsoft tools already, including Sharepoint, Outlook and Skype for business meeting infrastructure then Teams is really compelling both from a configuration standpoint and a cost perspective. There’s less external dependancies and you’ll get the majority of the benefits. In general I feel that many of Microsofts tools are good enough. I do hesitate to call them great and the shortcoming is from many layers of software that try to tie together but don’t always… Two example…

  • Teams lets you schedule a meeting but it’s settings are different from how you schedule it in Outlook or how you schedule it in Outlook on the Web. So there’s three ways to schedule a meeting and if you do it wrong, your conference system may not work right.
  • Another area I found confusing was that while Teams was integrated into Microsoft Office it was often confusing where to find key files. Is it in the Team folder, The personal OneDrive, the Sharepoint folder or did someone forget and email it and it’s stuck in Outlook as an attachment?

While there’s certainly room for improvement, I do think that the File Folder + Conversation concept is really smart and this is something that Slack just doesn’t do.

Slack on the other hand is designed to be stand-alone. This means that Slack has been more focused on API’s and integration points to allow third party chat bots to extend the functionality of Slack. While I think it’s ideally suited for small to medium size organizations, companies as large as IBM are using slack with their 350,000 employees. Integrations across GSuite, Dropbox, Microsoft, Box, Zoom, Salesforce and more make it easy to tie many tools together into one conversation.

Remember how I said that communication is a company-culture thing? Well a key reason for that is that these chat tools can makes it easy to give your organization to offer company transparency.

Different teams or departments can have their own channels and make these channels visible across the company. This can make it easy to both find important company information and understand how decisions were made through discussion. This idea of being more public by default is a powerful idea and it allows organizations to move faster.

Conversational interfaces are here to stay because they meet us where we are as people and they foster collaboration in a very intuitive way.

Categories
business

TAGMA is the new FAANG

Tesla Apple Google Microsoft and Amazon – TAGMA

Tesla, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are leading their fields in terms of innovation and if you’re interested in business or just making money in the stock market, pay attention because these five are doing something different. TAGMA is the new FAANG and it’s here to stay.

First, let’s start out with a premise, and that is that customer-centric companies that innovate outperform non-innovative companies.

Is this true? Well, there’s research that shows that innovation can be correlated to company performance. A group from MIT looked at corporate ideation software (an overly expensive suggestion box) to see how many ideas were actually implemented and then looked at the performance of these companies to see how they did.

Source MIT Sloan

When there are few ideas implemented you have some winners and some losers but when you get to the right you have zero companies doing poorly when they are implementing the ideas of the organization.

Now a suggestion box is a good idea and this type of tool can lead to better communication and decentralized improvements across many parts of the company. Some of these suggestions may be small, but it’s not the size of the suggestion, it’s what you do about it that counts.

This is a small lens to use for large companies but small changes and innovations are good indicators that companies are open to larger changes, ideas and bigger, company pivots.

What’s this have to do with TAGMA and is it the new FAANG? I’m getting to that….

The S&P is changing

If you look at the S&P 500 it lists the largest 500 companies by market cap.

If you look at how long companies stay on the S&P 500 list, it’s changed dramatically.

Source Innosight

In the 1980’s it was over 30 years for the average company to stay on the S&P 500. By the year 2000 it was 15 years and some think it will shrink even more. Firms keep slipping off and the average time on the S&P has gone from 20 years down to 7. According to this research into longevity 50% of the companies on the S&P500 today won’t be there in 10 years.

So to be a high-performing firm you need to innovate and to stay on the list you need to be able to reinvent yourself every few years.

That brings us to my list.
Tesla, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Let’s start with four of these. If you look at the composition of the S&P 500 by market cap, 20% of it is made up by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook. 20%! Ok, then, why isn’t Facebook on my list?

Why not Facebook?

Well… I started off by saying that our premise was that customer-centric companies that innovate outperform non-innovative companies.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have friends who work at Facebook and before I get angry emails, let me explain. While Facebook dominated their segment ofsocial media and the acquisitions of Oculus and Instagram were brilliant. Facebook just has a terrible reputation when it comes to customers.

They actually have a negative net promoter score… when you compare that to Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, it’s not even close.

Facebook has a negative net promoter score compared with all of it’s tech peers

Why Tesla?

Ok, then but what about Tesla? Well, it’s not part of the S&P500? Why? Well, it hasn’t made the list yet. Tesla meets most of the criteria except for one. It needs to have positive reported earnings in the most recent quarter, as well as over the four most recent quarters. Tesla was supposed to hit that requirement but… global pandemic and all. If Tesla was on the list, it would likely be in the top 40.

The other reason I had it on my list is that unlike Netflix (a member of the FAANG club, who already destroyed Blockbuster) Tesla has a tiny fraction sliver of the market and lots of room to grow. Fast growing companies that are innovative grow up to be the next Apple’s and Google’s. No other company is growing like Tesla at scale.

Innovation wins in the long-term

For the last 10 years, I’ve personally invested in innovative companies and doing so I’ve consistently outperformed the S&P500 year, over year, over year. Now your mileage may vary but customer-centric innovation pays off; not just in terms of returns but in terms of positive impacts on society and the world.