Slack alternatives: why should you consider them and what are the best ones?
There has never been so much talk about team collaboration software as nowadays. The world is witnessing a new working model and improving productivity while working hybridly has become high priority. Among so many options, we've noticed that organizations are looking for Slack alternatives. With this in mind, we decided to test these alternatives as team collaboration tools and help you make the best choice for your company.
Why do companies look for a Slack alternative?
The need for digital communication apps led companies to look for popular team collaboration tools like Slack, MS Teams, and Skype. While very popular, such tools might lack in security and software flexibility.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that it was this exact lack of flexibility that made Slack company lose popularity among its investors. For example, screen sharing was made available only in mid-2017 and until June this year this team collaboration tool was limited to calls within a single organization. By not investing in a native video conferencing feature, Slack didn’t follow the market’s demands.
However, instant messaging is a preferred way of communication among employees. 75% of employees believe that teamwork and collaboration are important in the workplace, and instant messaging platforms provide them the best way to communicate and collaborate effectively.
Therefore, employers are asking: how can we support team communication and collaboration best practices, but also have increased flexibility and security that Slack lacks?
Slack alternatives worth your consideration
Choosing a team collaboration software can be a difficult and is a time-consuming process, so in this content we have summed up our experience to guide you and help you save time.
We tested the following top Slack alternatives:
- Microsoft Teams;
Read on to find an overview of each of one these softwares, their strengths, and vulnerabilities.
Currently considered as one of the best open source Slack alternatives, this team collaboration software is attractive to many companies. Founded in 2015, this tool began as a Live Chat tool built on Meteor, quickly turning into an all-in-one communication hub for all kinds of enterprises. The review platform Capterra named Rocket.Chat one of the Top 5 Most Popular Live Chat Softwares and Top 20 Most Popular Remote Work Software.
One of the great strengths of this Slack alternative is the fact that it's an open source team collaboration software, allowing endless possibilities of customizations, integrations and security. With the largest community on GitHub, over 35k developers working on their roadmap, Rocket.Chat’s innovation potential skyrocketed over the years. Nowadays, they are considered one of the only platforms made for both team collaboration and omnichannel support.
With this large number of developers checking and working on the code all the time, security is another key feature of Rocket.Chat, which offers end-to-end encryption and has several U.S. banks and federal organizations such as the U.S Navy on its client list.
Read also: What are the unique advantages of open source software?
Rocket.Chat has great native integrations for services such as GitHub, AWS, Atlassian, Zapier and many others. In case you’re migrating from Slack, they make the data importing very easy and even have a quick tutorial that will help you out.
The hub allows native video conferencing, so you don't need to move through screens or install third-part apps. Team collaboration is very practical and easy in this platform as everything can be organized in channels, threads, group chats and direct messages.
For those who want to boost sales, this Slack alternative has also great omnichannel features to improve customer experience. Thanks to its complete toolset, you can support agents and managers with smart data that will help you understand better how well your team is performing.
When it comes to flexibility and customization, Rocket.Chat is the clear winner. Moreover, this Slack alternative offers omnichannel and in-app chat possibilities.
Available in Linux, Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS, Mattermost is a team collaboration tool that differentiates itself mainly in terms of data protection. As they state in their manifesto, the developers created this platform to distance themselves from SaaS chat apps.
Mattermost is a pretty good match for large companies’ requirements and, just like Slack, it works for all sorts of industries and teams. It can be self-hosted or cloud-based and it’s very flexible. When compared to Slack, the most significant difference here is in terms of security.
You can run this team collaboration platform behind your organization's firewall and be sure that instant messaging is safe. But if you are looking for end-to-end encryption, this platform does not provide that level of protection.
Another disadvantage reported by users is that Mattermost does not support voice and video calls in a native way, so if this collaboration feature is important for your team, you will need a third-party plugin.
Since its free plan has very few options, the experience with this platform might be limited, preventing you from using push notifications, permissions and any Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) feature. Last but not least: they don’t offer native Omnichannel features, only integrations.
Launched in 2017, Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular team collaboration tools in the market, mainly because of the distinction the name brings. It is a robust platform able to support all kinds of companies and teams’ needs.
One of the main advantages that this software offers is organizing team collaboration through channels, teams and private conversations. Like Slack and Rocket.Chat, this collaboration feature makes it easier to track projects and demands. With Microsoft Teams, however, there is a limit of 200 public channels and 30 private channels per person.
In addition to this, this Slack alternative has bots to automate tasks, reminders, agenda, and more. These bots are built on the open-source Bot Framework Composer, which allows you to customize them without requiring great coding knowledge.
The customization options, however, stops right there. Microsoft Teams is not an open-source platform, which prevents further improvements such as personalizing the platform and leverage integrations.
One problem with this software is the lack of a unified chat, which prevents the user from searching for specific bits of information within conversations. If you can't remember which chat that precious information is in, get ready to spend some time looking for it in every chat window.
For those who seek major security, Microsoft Teams does not have end-to-end encryption, so you need to integrate third-party apps for this purpose. The same happens with omnichannel, which also does not have a native integration in the platform.
Maybe because it is a product that is only an extension of Microsoft 365, some features have not been worked out very well. Microsoft Teams ends up being the ideal option only if you already have a Microsoft Office subscription and want a messaging app that is easier to integrate with other Microsoft products for which you are already paying.
In case your team needs to offer great support since this Slack alternative doesn’t offer native tools for customer experience, you’ll need to signup and pay for additional tools to fully support customers. That means extra cost, and extra-work to handle your support tickets and chats since they might be spread over a variety of unrelated tools.
Unlike Slack and Mattermost, Element joins Rocket.Chat as one of the safest Slack alternatives because it has end-to-end encryption. It is developed on the Matrix platform and your data gets stored in a private server.
Element sells itself as a “Nirvana for developers” and this is true once it was built by developers.
This is visible in their UX, which ends up not being friendly for non-technical users and hindering the day-to-day operations of some team members.
Who seeks on-premise hosting may not consider Element the ideal platform since this feature is only available in the Platinum plan, which has a more expensive cost when compared to other Slack alternatives.
Why are organizations looking for Slack alternatives?
Slack was one of the first team collaboration tools to gain prominence in the segment, back in 2014. The platform caught on quickly between business and non-business organizations, which used Slack as a team messaging app. Slack acquisition by Salesforce was recently announced and even though the news has been received with significant surprise by the community, the company hasn’t been very popular with investors for some time.
According to Morgan Stanley analysts, large companies had been choosing Slack alternatives and the massive demand for team collaboration tools in 2020 made Slack’s stock drop around 28%.
Even though Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced in March this year the milestone of 12.5 million users, many companies felt that this software may not actually be the best fit for everyone, specially for companies that need technology flexibility and require higher data privacy standards.
In order to create this article, we chatted with several people who work in big and small teams to better understand what Slack left behind and, among the many reasons that came up, these were the main ones:
Slack is a closed-source software
To put in a few words, this means their code is their property and nobody but the original vendors of the software have the permission to make any changes (or even actually have access to it).
In case you’re not familiar with open source software ins and outs or don’t really understand how it can impact your work routine, we’ll put it this way: if your team collaboration software were a vehicle, the code would be the engines. When your engines are available for everyone to see them it’s more likely that issues, e.g. security breaches, get tackled effectively.
On top of that, users tend to look for Slack alternatives because when they want total control over their data. In a closed source software you don’t really know how your data is being managed under the hood.
Another key reason to move away from Slack is because the software doesn't allow you to customize the interface and work on collaboration features and apps that will meet your specific needs. That’s a big deal for companies since customizable solutions can speed up deployment and user adoption.
Slack requires third-party apps for crucial features
The fact that Slack is a “Software as a Service” causes some concern for users that deal with high sensitive information. As safe as SaaS can be, it can suffer from data security breaches and you may have information leaks. Unfortunately, data breaches have already happened with Slack.
Slack users complain that they need to install third party apps in order to send voice messages, so you might start wondering what happens to your data once you’re obliged to grant them access to it.
The best way to prevent this is to place your data in an infrastructure where companies don’t share the same servers, like Rocket.Chat does. When hackers try to steal data from the cloud, they would get access to only one server instead of millions of them.
Closed-source software served as SaaS means that the data of all 12.5 million Slack users are stored together, so this data cluster becomes very attractive for hackers, which was the case in July this year when hackers were able to access Twitter internal systems through Slack and took over more than 130 high-profile Twitter accounts.
Watch our webinar to find out in what other ways can messaging apps expose your data.
Our conclusion on Slack alternatives
Team collaboration tools are shaping the way businesses see communication nowadays. As a McKinsey survey points out, users at companies expect deeper structural and organizational changes. For example, 66% of them expect day-to-day work to become more project-based instead of team or function-based, as 72% expect teams can self-organize way better.
This means that instant messaging tools, Slack or its alternatives, will be a much needed tool in any company's tech stack.
It’s very important to check on these Slack alternatives and see which one fits best for your needs. If you are looking for high data security standards and wide customization options, we strongly believe Rocket.Chat is the best option. Due to its open-source nature and because it offers both omnichannel and team collaboration native features, it's a well-rounded option for anybody looking to compensate on Slack's drawbacks.
Not to mention the benefit of having a huge community of developers working daily to improve the software, creating one of the most secure and comprehensive hubs in the market.