Skype Teams desperately needs this feature if it has a chance to beat Slack

The rumors might be true about Skype Teams, but it only has a chance against Slack and Convo if it uses threaded messaging.

announcing a free offer for skype meetings 1b

Unconfirmed rumors about Microsoft working hard on a team collaboration app called Skype Teams are running rampant. (Microsoft did not provide substantiation.) PC World has called Skype Teams a “Slack killer” and a report from MSPoweruser explains some of the features.

Yet, even if the product exists (and augments the more enterprise-oriented Yammer app owned by Microsoft), it will need to provide some innovative new features for group collaboration. The biggest one that’s missing today? It’s all over Reddit, it’s in some email apps, and it’s even in some comment threads including the one at Computerworld.

That’s right: Skype Teams sure better offer threaded conversations.

One example of this: If the team is discussing a new presentation for next week and someone mentions a product launch (or a new Netflix show), that conversation would become it’s own branch in the discussion with a collapsible link (or at least an obvious branch you can skip over); it should be an optional thread for anyone discussing the main topic. (It’s a feature Slack may add later this year.)

Why is that? As a daily user of both Slack and Convo, I can tell you that threading is the one thing that could save me a ton of time during the day. In Convo, I sometimes have to scroll through a dozen comments to find one that actually relates to the topic. This seems to be a natural part of human speech. If I ask you about a project taking place in Arizona, your first response might be to tell me about the weather there or the taco dinners. You skip the part about the project.

In fact, in Convo, when you reply to a comment, it just inserts it at the end of the thread. In Slack, it’s even worse. You can’t even reply to a comment directly unless you tag the person or start a one-on-one discussion; the comment is added at the end of the thread, which is easy to miss.

I could see how Skye Teams could make this all work. Let’s say you branch off and start talking about Arizona. You could then go into that thread easily and even start a quick phone call about the hotels there. Or, if you are on topic, you could start a conference call with anyone who has stayed on the main topic and exclude anyone who started a new thread. This could be incredibly powerful and useful.

Collapsing threads would also save time because you could quickly scan through only the relevant comments and skip anything superfluous. For those who work at a company that relies on collaborative apps, you know it is easy to get lost in digressions. They happen every single day in Slack; curiously, the reason we really need these tools is because email tends to bury important conversations in a wash of spam and status updates.

If Slack teams nails this one right off the bat, it could get a quick jump on the most popular apps and even make them seem a bit underdeveloped. Microsoft, make it happen.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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