Communications software tools play an even more important role today with more companies allowing their employees to work from home. This isn’t only an employee incentive; 91% of remote workers said they are more productive with this setup, according to the study, What Leaders Need To Know About Remote Workers, from TINYpulse. Central to managing a remote workforce though is having a reliable communication channel and that includes an IM/video conferencing app for quick meetings or urgent discussions.
Likewise, communications software apps partly drive outsourcing productivity. In one study, 61% said cloud computing, which includes communications software, lowers the cost of delivery in outsourcing. This makes IM/video conferencing tools essential to HR, Finance and I.T., key business areas that are outsourced the most in the U.S.
For many businesses dealing with remote workforce or outsourcing, Slack is probably familiar. It’s one of the most used communication tool for chat, audio and video calls.
However, it doesn’t mean Slack is your best choice.That depends on your assessment of its competitors that we’ve collated in this guide.
In this article, we present 10 alternatives to Slack with each one promising to address a unique need. Check these apps and see which one fits your needs. But first, let’s start with Slack so you have a clearer point of comparison.
Slack is a very popular communications software tool, commonly used by small teams for IM chats and video calls. It integrates with popular productivity apps that you’re likely using, such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Asana, Salesforce, JIRA and Trello.
Likewise, all messages, files and links posted on the app are indexed to make them easy to search. It even uses predictive algorithm that learns from your usage history, so it can retrieve items with more accuracy.
What we like about Slack is that it has one of the most lenient free apps, allowing you to use it for an unlimited period of time. For paid plans, it also has one of the lowest starting points at $6.67 per user/month. Slack may be popular among small business teams, but it’s also capable of scaling to enterprise needs. You can share channels between workspaces, enjoy unlimited workspaces and institute search channels across your organization.
Skype is arguably the most popular instant messaging app and a widely used VoIP solution especially its free version. It is used by freelancers, small business and enterprise that rely on cloud communication.
The freemium allows basic chat, VoIP calls, file attachments and limited video conferencing. If you have more complex needs, there’s the business plan starting at $2 per user/month. The paid plan allows video conferencing for up to 250 participants, MS Office compatibility, third-party integration and enterprise-grade security.
All in all, Skype gives you the communication tools to conduct online trainings, webinars, remote meetings and team collaboration in the cloud. These include video conferencing and chat, document and image sharing features. You can also connect Skype to landline and mobile phones. And there are no peak time charges so it’s easy to manage the fees.
Moreover, for unlimited calls to over 60 countries you are charged at $15 per month, which suits sales teams that conduct volume cold calling well.
As with most IM tools, installing it is easy using a setup wizard and involves just a few clicks. The key features that we like about this app include a caller ID, group video calls and screen sharing. However, you can always opt for other Skype alternatives if you think this app doesn’t meet your needs.
Zoom is one of our top 10 alternatives to Slack because it has a better video conferencing interface. Participants are neatly laid out on your screen during conferences and it’s easy to tell who is talking even if his or her video is disabled. You can also see quickly who are and who aren’t on Zoom at the moment and who is raising a question. Likewise, a side chat is integrated that allows participants to communicate even as someone is presenting.
Also, compared to Skype, Zoom has a more stable screen-sharing feature. Generally, you’ll experience less drops and delays. Conducting the webinar or online video conference is also easy: just share the URL to participants and they will be prompted on how to join with a few quick steps.
The free version is limited to a few minutes of conferencing, about forty minutes, but it gives you robust features like hosting up to 100 participants, group collaboration tools and online support. If you need a longer time and more advanced features you must subscribe to a plan starting at $14.99 per host/month.
Aside from its video conferencing feature, we like Zoom Meetings and Rooms that let you conduct different sessions simultaneously, and Premium Audio, which, for serious presentations, is a must-have to ensure a smooth experience with your valued guests. However, if you want a user-friendlier chat tool more than video conferencing, we suggest you try Zoom alternatives.
Join.me is another user-friendly communications app with the expected features: it’s easy to set up; calling in the participants is fast and easy; and there’s a free version for small group meetings. It is ideal for all user types, whether for personal or business.
It has one of the most stable mobile UIs in the category, making the app highly useful for remote and field teams with only their smartphone as the tool to connect to their office. A sales director, for example, can easily contact and track his or her reps with this app for urgent tasks. Colleagues can also quickly set up a cloud meeting wherever and whenever they are internet connected. More so, the app integrates with Salesforce, so access to customer and other sales data is simplified.
As a mobile-focused app, Join.me proves reliable for both Android and iOS devices even under 3G connection. We also like its recording tool, which is useful for meeting minutes; Google Calendar and Outlook plugin; and reporting features. To fully appreciate this app, try to match it with Join.me alternatives and see the difference.
By all means Google Hangouts should be part of our top 10 alternatives to Slack, especially if you’re dependent on Google Apps. You can easily share your Google Drive files, Google Calendar events and Gmail messages with Hangouts. When most of the participants have a Google account, this app is practical, including sharing YouTube videos to enhance your online conferencing or webinars.
That’s why it’s surprising why it didn’t catch up to our top three apps here. For some reason, Google Hangouts became popular among a niche: those who are adept at Google Apps. The rest of the world seems more familiar with Skype or Slack. Perhaps one reason is that Hangouts is within the Google ecosystem and isn’t easily visible if you don’t have a Google account.
Still, it’s worth investing in this communication tool especially for users looking for a reliable freemium tool. Another main benefit, too, is its paid plan comes bundled with other Google products that you likely need. For example, you get unlimited Drive storage and white-labeled Gmail addresses.
You’ll like its key features such as HD video calls, auto screen focus and smart muting. Again, if you think this app doesn’t suit your needs you can always go for Google Hangouts alternatives.
RingCentral is a popular VoIP system that aims to replace your traditional PBX system. This focus makes it different from the usual IM/video chat apps on our list; instead, RingCentral is more sophisticated and complex to run. So, if your primary need is to build a cloud PBX, this software fits your need.
The app features fax, calls, SMS and mobile apps and supports BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy. Employees’ smartphones can quickly be integrated to the system; this alone saves the business significant equipment costs. More importantly, it connects all your employees to you, meaning, everyone is easily reachable via cloud, a good thing to have during emergencies or urgent issues.
The system comes with free toll-free international and local numbers, which you can keep even after your subscription to a plan expires. It also has a wide phone menu to match your organizational chart. Likewise, the app features enterprise-level security with tier-1 data center to guarantee sensitive information doesn’t leak out.
RingCentral also supports online meetings, voicemail, collaboration and call screening. If you feel this app is too robust for your simple requirements, you can check other RingCentral alternatives.
Formerly HipChat, Stride helps you turn discussions into actionable tasks that are assigned to specific team members. It also allows you to save a chat as a “decision,” which you can easily retrieve for reference in the future. In this aspect, the app stands out in a crowd of excellent IM and video chat apps.
Aside from standard IM and chat functionalities, the app has unique tools such as Actions and Decisions, which lets you create to-do lists and share them with participants. The tool also allows you to pick out important “decisions” from conversations and explore them for a more concrete plan.
There’s a free plan that guarantees unlimited users, group chat rooms, direct messaging and group video meetings. Many of these are also available in our top Stride alternatives. The feature we’re more keen about this app, however, is its built-in collaboration tools, which include file sharing, group screen sharing and per-room notifications.
BigMarker eliminates the need to download an app and install it on your PC or phone. It’s a fully web-based video conferencing app, its main advantage over other BigMarker alternatives, which require local installation. That means there’s no required setup, just sign up and the app is live. Likewise, it saves you local drive storage, which is a big deal for your smartphone.
With its all-cloud infrastructure you have the same functionalities as you’d use Zoom, for instance: video conference, webinar hosting, recording and HD screen sharing. You can also use this app for training of remote employees or an outsourced team or client meetings halfway across the globe. Moreover, the app integrates with important business solutions like Salesforce, MailChimp and HubSpot. This helps you leverage data across the organization, such as, sales, marketing, support and product development.
You can also use this app to host webinars on your website, conduct polling and create a Q&A section. However, there’s no free plan and it has one of higher price points on our list, starting at $29 per month for 25 participants, HD video and ticket selling, among others.
If you have enterprise requirements for online meetings and collaboration, perhaps, you’ll find Cisco WebEx the most fitting on our top 10 alternatives to Slack list. Cisco, after all, is a vendor for large companies and we’re not surprised to find enterprise functionalities here for web and video conferencing, brainstorming tools and multimedia content sharing.
You get access to a WebEx Meeting Center, where your webinar activities are centralized. These include scheduling, starting and presentation processes. For example, to prepare an invitation you can integrate this app with Microsoft Outlook; an “Add WebEx” Meeting” tab appears on Outlook, which both the host can set and share with the participants via email. Participants can then join the webinar via their phone, PC or a video system.
The app can also host up to 3,000 attendees, which makes it clearly aimed at serious online business meetings. In fact, you can set up a registration process if you’re selling tickets as your revenue model.
Pricing is comparatively low for an enterprise plan, starting at $24 per user/month. But if you don’t have enterprise requirements, it’s advisable to stick to Cisco WebEx alternatives that are budget-friendly and user-friendly to small business.
GoToMeeting is another popular cloud communication app for video conferencing. It requires local setup, but it’s easy and fast as with most of our apps here. Preferred by millions of users worldwide (16M claims the vendor), the app is simple, reliable and efficient. Perhaps its advantage is that many are familiar with this app, making it less difficult to invite participants with various technical and professional background.
The vendor offers a free app for three participants, which is nearly not useful even for small business needs. But the starting paid plan is affordable at $19 per month, which jacks up the number of participants to ten.
GoToMeeting is compatible with Mac and PC; hence, it’s a great tool for desktop video conferencing. However, it only supports iOS, limiting access to iPhone/iPad users only. This is a big headache if you have a significant percentage of participants on Android phones. In that case, you may opt for GoToMeeting alternatives with Android and iOS support.
Dead Simple Screen Sharing is a screen sharing application, enabling users to share their screens and facilitate audio conferencing right from their browsers. A free version is available and does not require any software download, installation, and registration.
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