Enterprise messaging today is synonymous with Slack and MS Teams. So what exactly are these? Slack and MS Teams are both cloud collaboration tools coming from the US which utilise chat for communication and team integration. Slack was the first among them to be developed, and Microsoft followed in close pursuit with Teams (an evolution of Skype for Business), not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to cater to wanting businesses.

Slack alone has millions of users and is famously called the “email killer.” It rids its users from having to scour important messages from hundreds and thousands of emails that pile up in the inbox.

In comparison to e-mails

Slack alone has millions of users and is famously called the “email killer.” It rids its users from having to scour important messages from hundreds and thousands of emails that pile up in the inbox.

It doesn’t make sense to use emails for internal communication when Slack and MS Teams makes the process so much faster, more comfortable and convenient. That said, users who are on both these platforms still rely on emails for any external communication and receive/send countless emails through the day. In such a context, it would be more truthful to say that Slack and MS Team may be “email killers” but only in terms of internal business communication. External business communication is still very much dominated by emails.

Also, when you use emails for both internal and external business communication – it is easier to establish context. Using a separate platform for each makes it difficult to integrate the different flows of communication coming in and may confuse. In fact, for many businesses who are using MS Teams, or Slack have created a new business problem – silos of disconnected conversations & data.

It’s now harder to search for all relevant conversations related to a project, because some will be external in emails and others internal in Slack/Teams. Internal conversations related to external factors also lose context. For example, you could receive an email from a client asking to about a change of SLA’s on their support contract. You want to consult your teammates before agreeing, so you start chatting in Slack/Teams about the legitimacy of the requested changes. A heated debate ensues.

Both the internal discussions (in Slack/Teams) and the external conversation (email) with the client will sit isolated in their own silo. Now, we’re not saying Slack/Teams is bad – quite the opposite – we agree, that email is not a great internal messaging platform. Reply all email threads can sink an organisation. Slack & Teams are a great improvement compared to the era where email threads were composed of both internal and external conversations. However it’s definitely not perfect: losing context and spreading information in two silos comes with a big cost on productivity.

Both the group chat platforms are synchronous, allowing for easier real-time communication. They also court the risk of having specific messages overlooked as a result. While Slack and MS Team offer the facility of hunting out messaging threads, it is not quite the same as emails. Emails are more superior when it comes to keeping up with all the messages you receive.

But as you can see, Front brings together both worlds – this image pretty much sums up the solution:

Users can chat within Front about an email, maintain context from the source discussion point.

If only Whatsapp could be used for professional communication!

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging interface there is today. The UI of WhatsApp is easy to use and navigate. Slack, and MS Teams are wanting there, their UI is channel-based, which isn’t something the average user is experienced with. Many companies stop themselves from using Slack/MS Team for their communication as they’d like a messaging platform which resembled the overall look and feel of WhatsApp a little more.

Even the functionality of Slack and MS Teams as messaging tools can be questioned when put in comparison to WhatsApp. There is no provision for sharing your geographical location or one for checking whether your message has been read. Both these messaging platforms are great for integration and file sharing on a desktop but not so much on a mobile device.

But Front bridges that gap, of offering an IM/Chat solution, alongside conventional email. No more endless email chains using “Reply All” and Forwarding. Not only that, you can create one-on-one chats with colleagues, as well groups.

They offer less privacy

Some business sectors share sensitive information amongst themselves which they’d like to keep private and confidential. To do so, they’d like absolute control over the content they share. Slack and MS Team does not make available private cloud or on-premise hosting options. Many sectors such as healthcare, law firms, public sector, and financial services are reluctant to depend on these messaging tools as a result.

Security can be compromised

The encryption of these services isn’t strong enough. Slack and MS Team offers minimal security and compliance policies. Additionally, agencies who choose to rely on these tools for communicating cannot dictate their terms and conditions to them and expect them to comply. They must accept that there can be a breach of data at any point or circumstances where their private data is shared.

Not for mobile devices

You can access Slack and MS Team from your cellphone all the same, but these communication tools have not been optimised for mobile usage. What this means is that you’ll most probably be subject to lags in loading and slow response time. Also, there’s no protecting you from data theft if you’ve managed to misplace your device.

Why Front solves all these challenges – and more!

The way forward cannot be the way back. Emails are still crucial for professional communication and will continue to be for some time now. The need of the hour, however, is a messaging app that enables easier access to contextual data as compared to the extent permitted by Slack and MS Team. A communications app that allows for 3rd party integrations, automated workflows, and shared resources will most definitely increase your workforce productivity.

Imagine an app that has been designed keeping the spirit of collaboration in mind. So you have shared inboxes and the facility to leave comments and mentions. The communication taking place via the app is transparent. Transparency builds trust, in turn. A team that harbors trust in themselves is a team motivated for success.

The shared context, as already discussed, leads to a sense of community within its users. A sense of community works to retain an employee with your company for longer.

But the icing on the cake is not just blending email and messaging into a single application. Messaging is includes other channels, such as web chat, social media (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter), SMS to name but a few. Add on top the ability to assign messages to team members, ensuring accountability of conversation ownership. Bring in AI capabilities, such as notifying a department head of any email/message containing the words “complaint”, or “compensation”, topped off by a full reporting engine so you can manage your team and measure customer experience.

Conclusion

Communication and collaboration are important ingredients for the well-being of any organisation. Business outfits need the tech to support this communication and collaboration. In the older days, email handled these needs providing a structure for messages to be sent back and forth in real time. More recently, we have messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Skype. However, WhatsApp and Skype cannot be effectively used for professional communication as that is not why they’ve been developed . Slack and MS Team are communication platforms that have been devised expressly to serve professional communication needs. Both are brilliant at their job and a march ahead of emails, at least for internal business communication. However, these too can be improved upon. Businesses could profit from a messaging platform with more convenient UIs and file sharing. Platforms that would provide an equally seamless UX on a mobile device. Slack, and MS Team miss out on these counts. They are used parallelly alongside emails to facilitate internal and external business communication. It complicates things a little as contextualisation of messages becomes difficult. The world of professional communication could sure do with new developments.

The solution

Front brings messaging to the business environment, but with a “WhatsApp UI” that have all come to expect from our personal devices. Stitch have been appointed the first UK reseller, so we are on hand to assist your business roll out this exciting new platform. Click here to find out more about Front