There’s really no question at this point that Microsoft has managed to make itself relevant again. Under CEO Satya Nadella, the software giant has stormed the cloud computing business, revived its corporate culture, and in April surpassed $1 trillion in market value. But if you have any lingering doubts, consider what Microsoft’s rivals have to say about it.
In its S-1 filing, Slack, the San Francisco-based software maker, describes Microsoft as its primary competitor. In the burgeoning world of workplace-collaboration apps, there is perhaps no higher praise.
Slack, which launched in 2014 and plans to list directly on the public market June 20, boasts more than 10 million users in 150-plus countries. More than 600,000 organizations use its tools.
Microsoft, long known for Office 365 and Outlook email systems, launched Microsoft Teams in 2017 to directly compete with Slack. Two years later, Teams is already catching up and helping Microsoft move into the modern office.
More than 500,000 organizations, including 91 of the Fortune 500 companies, use Teams, according to Microsoft. Last March, Teams was used by more than 200,000 organizations, up from 50,000 during its launch year. Microsoft, which has not disclosed the number of individual users, has said that Teams is the fastest-growing app in the company’s history.
There are a few key differences between Teams and Slack, starting with their user bases. A 2018 survey from Xconomy found that Slack was used more by small and medium-size businesses while Teams was typically found at larger companies. Microsoft also has been focusing its attention on non-desk workers, with customizations that let workers manage shift schedules or request time off directly from their mobile devices. (Slack has not indicated that it is targeting the non-desk workforce, although a handful of enterprising businesses in industries ranging from farming to retail to healthcare have become adopters of its software.)
With Teams, thanks to the integration of the Office 365 suite, you can access video, Outlook, and documents (the latter of which you can edit) directly from the app.
Analysts say that in order for Slack to stay competitive, it needs to focus on creating collaborative applications that target specific processes, roles, and industries rather than try to be a generalized productivity tool. Other competitors in the $9 billion collaboration software market include Facebook Workplace and Trello.