In 2016 Google announced that it was offering a new integration between G Suite and Slack. The integration allowed users to bring files from Drive directly into a Slack conversation. It also meant they could also create new Docs, Sheets and Slide files right from Slack.  Slack, according to Google, would harness the heavy document collaboration capabilities of G Suite, while Slack would enable real-time communication between teams. Together they provided a viable alternative to Microsoft Teams, or any other enterprise collaboration suite on the market.

Since then, the process of enabling different integrations between the two has continued with many third-party vendors facilitating the integration between G Suite and Slack as a whole, or between Slack and individual apps in the G Suite. Recently, for example, Digitile integrated Slack and Gmail functionality into its cross-platform search hub, joining Google Drive and G Suite.

Start With Microsoft Stay With Teams

The attraction of this has not been missed by many enterprises, who are using Slack and G Suite together for heavy document collaboration and real-time team communication. While Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft offers this through Teams in Office 365, once you sign-up to Office 365 it is unlikely you are going to pay to use anything else.

Picking a company's collaboration software depends a lot on what features you need and which you already have said Nate Masterson of online retailer Maple Holistics. For instance, businesses who already use Office 365 can seamlessly integrate Teams into their daily  enterprise. Likewise, the rise of data breaches makes Teams' unparalleled security features hard to ignore. Since many businesses are already using Skype, Excel, Word, and Outlook, it's difficult to imagine why Teams wouldn't be in the best interest of companies in need of a trustworthy and user-friendly collaboration tool.

For any enterprise though, that is looking for a best-of-breed solution for its digital workplace collaboration efforts is likely to end up looking at Slack, and G Suite. Alan Lafrance,marketing strategy manager at Austin-based Lawnstarter explained how the two work together in practical situations. Slack is best for instantaneous collaboration and file sharing, he said. It offers immediacy, digestible conversation tracking, and quick file sharing across the org and even personally between machines. It can be augmented with additional integrations which is a nice functionality that can build in efficiency.

Google G Suite, for its part, is a heavier framework that offers more robust features, namely file creation and co-working, calendar functions, scalable apps through plug-ins and data integration. It competes with traditional paid offerings like Microsoft Office which can be very beneficial for lean companies.

Related Article: Teams vs. Slack: Why Microsoft Will Win the Collaboration Wars  

G Suite With Slack

Darren Chait is co-founder of San Francisco-based Hugo, a meeting collaboration software for teams. He said that the company’s most used integrations are G Suite and Slack. He said that typically, there’s a lot of value in ecosystems, which means that once you commit to either Google or Microsoft for mail, calendar, file storage or other functionality there’s value in selecting these ecosystems for ancillary solutions like video conferencing, intranets or note-taking. This makes sense, he said, for the following reasons:

  • Each typically charge for access to the suite rather than individually for apps, so the ancillary solutions come free with their core offering (mail, calendar and documents) 
  • Interoperability between apps in a given suite is better. For example, you can automatically add a Google Hangouts Meet video conferencing link to new events created in your calendar if you use G Suite. 

However, there are two interesting trends that we have seen in recent times that break this model.

1. Slack As A Standalone

One is that Slack approached workplace chat as a standalone product with a large focus on integrations. Slack’s value proposition was therefore very different compared to bundled chat apps because it allowed you to connect chat to all of your team’s apps, well beyond just the apps in your Google / Microsoft ecosystem.

2. Slack’s Google Connectors

The apps that connect Slack to your Google Account for example are so well refined, that they are essentially native from a usability perspective. For example, the Google Drive app for Slack is more feature-rich than the Google Drive integration for G Chat.

Microsoft Teams is entering the market with fewer integrations (being new to market) and with fewer features than Slack. It seems like a great solution for existing Microsoft teams who want a free chat app that’s tightly coupled with their existing Office 365 usage. “However, if a team is looking for thousands of integrations to connect to each one of their daily apps, from day one, Slack, the more mature application, is going to make the most sense,” he said.

Learning Opportunities

The next few years will be interesting for Slack. Microsoft and Google keep improving their chat apps and are investing heavily in their developer ecosystem, closing in on Slack’s key advantage (being its developer community), and having defined the category and requirement for workplace chat software. At the same time, these apps have a major distribution advantage, being bundled with the rest of the Google and Microsoft ecosystems, essentially putting their chat apps right into potential users’ hands.

Related Article: Slack or Microsoft Teams? Well, That Depends...

G Suite With Slack Vs. Teams

The race to own team collaboration pits best of breed provider Slack against digital work hub (also called cloud office suites) providers Google and Microsoft, according to Jim Lundy of Morgan Hill, Calif.-based Aragon Research. If you compare the messaging capabilities of all three vendors, they’re fairly similar. However, because Slack doesn't offer all the other capabilities, it has a large app integration directory. On app directories, Microsoft is playing a little bit of catch-up, though it offers lots of plug-ins for Office 365. For Teams, as of this writing, there are 134 third party apps that integrate with Microsoft Teams. 

The big difference to consider is the bundle that’s offered. With Google Hangouts, which is sold as part of G Suite, you get Hangouts Meet for voice and video calls. With Microsoft Teams, you get meetings and voice calls, too. Slack can do calls for up to 15 people.

From a pure collaboration and communications perspective, Google and Microsoft offer more. On pricing, Slack charges $8 and $15 per user per month for its standard and plus editions, and Google comes in at $5 and $10 for all of G Suite.

Microsoft, for its part, has a number of offerings that includes Teams at $5, $12.50, and $20 dollars a month.  “Many enterprises that have Google and Microsoft for email also have Slack in certain departments.  The reason for this is that business users decide they like Slack and buy it we’re in an era of collaboration proliferation. The big area to watch going forward will be Conversational AI. Chatbots can exist in all three platforms, but it will be one of the new races to keep a close eye on,” he said.

More Competition in the Market

But there are other players out there that could equally create the kind of stir Slack did when he first entered the collaboration space in 2009. While the workforce collaboration market has been highlighted by the latest Slack and Microsoft Teams news, Symphony claims to have amassed 350,000 financial services professional users across 350 organizations.

In fact, the cloud-based messaging and collaboration platform was created out of the world's largest financial institutions and asset managers, with investors like Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, BlackRock, BNY Mellon, Google, Goldman Sachs, among others.  In these organizations, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Symphony is competing strongly with Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams, the company told CMSWire. And this from a company that is only four years old.

Digital workplaces have the power to bring distributed workforces together in a single virtual portal. These centralized digital hubs give employees instant access to crucial operational tools like payroll and scheduling, as well as countless communication channels to help employee correspondence and workflows run more efficiently. However, picking the right tools is a key challenge that enterprise leaders should address based on needs rather than prevailing trends. While much of the enterprise collaboration talk has been about Teams since its November 2018 release, G Suite with Slack is a powerful and cheaper alternative.