Slack vs Facebook Workplace – an initial comparison

You may have heard that Facebook has launched a version of its flagship product for organizations, called Facebook Workplace. Facebook’s challenge, and opportunity, is that there are already other business collaboration and communication offerings on the market. The best known one is Slack. My company has been using Slack for a while, but we got an invitation to Facebook Workplace, so I have been checking out its features. My exposure to Workplace has been brief, but I thought I would share some of my initial impressions about the differences between Slack and Workplace.

A few years ago the term “consumerization of IT” was coined to describe the increasing tendency for consumer experiences to influence corporate tools. As many people had begun to despair of email as an effective corporate communication tool, a number of businesses looked around for tools that could replicate Facebook’s intuitiveness, ease-of-use and ease of communication. There have been a few tools, e.g. Socialcast, and Yammer (which Microsoft acquired in one of it’s crazy moments).

According to one article, the market for business collaboration tools is:

wide open for new entrants, because workers and the IT professionals that support them are “starved for good tools”

The advantage that Facebook has in this market is that users wouldn’t need to be trained to use it, and that means there is little risk for businesses while users are trying to figure out how it works.

Slack, the gorilla in the business collaboration market, was launched in 2013, and has gained a huge and still growing customer base. As of October 2016, there are over 3 million active users, with over 900,000 paid accounts.

Slack vs Facebook Workplace comparison

So what are the differences between Slack and Facebook Workplace?

Slack’s user interface uses channels to address groups, and direct messages for communicating with individuals, this is all done within one app.

slack

Slack user interface

Facebook Workplace relies on the concept of groups for group discussions, and Chat for individuals, but these are two different apps.

facebook workplace

Facebook Workplace user interface

In my opinion, that makes Workplace slightly less easy to use than Slack.

From a pricing perspective, Slack has a freemium option which allows small organizations to use it free of charge, and charges over $10 per month per active user for its premium offering. Workplace will charge $3 each user for up to 1,000 users, which then decreases as the user numbers go up. Nonprofit organizations and academic institutions will get Workplace. But it has no free plan.

Interestingly, Facebook has stated that organizations that use Workplace will retain exclusive ownership of their data.

If you’ve started using Facebook Workplace, what are your thoughts about it?

Update: The market is hotting up. Microsoft has announced a new business collaboration product, Teams.

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