Rolling with the Punches
By Michael Fiorito, MDS
The battle is on. When Microsoft announced Teams last year, Slack took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, welcoming Microsoft into the ring.
That’s especially notable considering reports that Bill Gates himself talked Microsoft leadership out of placing an $8 billion bid for the red-hot Slack, urging instead for the company to use its own tech to build a competitor. With Teams, it seems like Microsoft decided to lead with its chin.
And now, Microsoft is being very clear that despite all the hype around the very well-funded and much-hyped Slack, they’re taking their competition to the mat. After all, Microsoft developed Office and Office rules the workplace.
“Little companies come and go,” says Microsoft corporate VP of Office 365 marketing Ron Markezich, referring to tools like Slack as “applications du jour” that will fade away as Microsoft Teams comes into its own.
‘A very narrow niche’
According to Markezich, from Microsoft’s perspective, tools like Slack “fill a very narrow niche.” It’s a lightweight against an agile heavyweight.
He calls them “little point solutions” that have found success with smaller teams by focusing so heavily on the user interface and letting them get started for free. The original and still primary audience for tools like Slack and HipChat have historically been smaller, more technical or creative teams.
But, he says, these apps just aren’t suited to scaling up to larger companies, lacking in features, security controls, and integrations with business-standard software like Microsoft Office. The fact is that Slack often gets stuck in the IT department of an organization. Yes, Slack can go viral in an organization, but going viral doesn’t mean it’s secure, that it’s supported and that its scalable.
The Knock Out Punch
Markezich asserts that Microsoft Teams meets the needs of small organizations to larger enterprises, integrating closely and securely with the Microsoft software and services that they already use. And this integration will only continue to grow. While Slack is a one punch Nelson, Microsoft can bob and weave and will ultimately dominate with stamina.
Finally, remember, it’s not a competition between products, it’s a competition between COMPANIES. Microsoft’s continued innovation of Office and its further integration with mobile solutions enable it to remain the skinny heavyweight in the ring.