Part 2 of our exploration into Teams Instant Messaging & Collaboration Tools (Read Part 1) will compare Microsoft Teams, Webex Teams and Slack to determine which one may be the best. We’ll discuss the benefits of implementing Teams platforms, interoperability among platforms, and drawbacks to third-party integration (a way to create a standardized platform that works with your existing tools).

TheDraw to a Collaboration (or Teams?)Platform
Slack, Webex(Cisco), Microsoft Teams, and Webex(Cisco] Teams are replacing chat services and inbox-focused messaging. A Teams space (or channel in Slack) is related to a conversation, much like an emailthread.However,if you need to rope in a new team member (or remove one), you don’t have to dig through old emails and forward them to everyone-you just invite a person to the space where they can see the entire history. Associated documents are now available in the space, instead of being copied to everyone’s Exchange mailboxes. Communication is now possible from one platform, thanks to the addition of message read status, presence status, audio and video calling.
Slack was the first to introduce the new-generation collaboration tool. They still hold a large share of the market, even though most of their install base is freeware. Both Microsoft and Cisco liked the team concept so much that they adopted the exact same name for their product: Teams. Many companies have started to use collaboration platforms, but have not fully adopted a strategy. They now need to come up with a solution that works in a short time frame. Many companies have multiple pilots and factions within their company that use different tools. If you rush to deploy something, train remote users, and then discover a flaw in your design, it can spell doom for your company.

Zoom,Webex,Microsoft,or Slack Teams Options: TheBigFour
Slack was the first to use it and is still used by many departments within companies who recognize it as a better way of communicating than email. Slack is also the leader in third-party integration capabilities. They can integrate withZoom.Webex, Google Drive. OneDrive, and many other services (Learn More). These offerings are not available natively by Slack, so they rely on integrations. They also often provide links to third-party apps. If you have a fragmented environment with files and users across multipleplatforms, perhaps Slack could provideconsistencyandease of useby integrating this information into a singlepane of glass.
Other solutions may be more beneficial if your environment is more tightly managed. If you use the Office product suite, the Microsoft Teams client may offer the best desktop experience. It is often seeded by Enterprise Agreements (EA), so you can test it out. Expanding can lead to increased costs for additional services and hardware.
Cisco’s strength lies in its unmatched Unified Communications (UC), voice and video capabilities. Cisco Teams is a natural fit for many companies that already have Cisco voice and video. Microsoft and Cisco also have a “coopetition”, business relationship. This means that Cisco products can be used to join Microsoft Teams meetings, or Microsoft Teams participants can join Cisco WebExor call Cisco UC endpoints. These agreements are not without their limitations. Please stay tuned for the companion article “TheVideo Conferencing Dilemma.”

Are TeamsB2BInteroperabilityandThird-party IntegrationNecessary?
It may be easy to choose a platform if you are only interested in your company. However, it is beneficial to use a Teams platform to collaborate Business to Business or with customers (B2B). The platform offers the same ease and features as internal use. Cisco Teams is a great tool that I use to keep in touch. I can check their status, chat with them and share large files. I can also communicate audio and video in a way that email can’t. Many people believe interoperability among the three vendors is inherently part of email. However, this is not true based on years of experience with email.
Each of the three big players (Slack and Microsoft) uses a different protocol or language. Slack can collaboratewith other companies and businesses that use Slack, Microsoft Teams using Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Teams with Cisco Teams. While the market is changing, all three companies still hold a solid share and there is no clear winner in this space. This is why many customers use multiple solutions.
Mio, a company that offers a translation service between the three major players, is able to facilitate cross-platform collaboration. Although this sounds great, adding another vendor to the mix can cause more headaches than just supporting multiple Teams platforms. IT must weigh the benefits of maintaining multiple platforms against the complexity of using a third-party integration tool.

Slack, Microsoft Teams or WebexTeams: Which collaboration tool is best?
Slack, Microsoft and Cisco all handle basic intra-company Team features almost identically, including point to point video. It really depends on what is important to your company. Your IE account manager and solution engineer can help you find a reliable and robust solution that suits your needs and budget.

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