Slack to integrate more features with Microsoft Teams

The popular team collaboration software maker has seen a spike in use as remote working becomes more common in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Slack has added a voice-calling app for Microsoft Teams, alongside integrations with other voice over IP (VoIP) vendors. With the Teams Calls app, available now in beta, users will be able to launch a call directly from Slack.

Slack said it has seen almost 350% growth in the volume of calls made or received in the past month as demand for collaboration and communication tools booms amid a major shift to remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are also new integrations with Zoom Phone, Cisco Jabber, RingCentral and Dialpad. The voice integrations let users make calls with actual phone numbers by clicking on the “lightning” button added in the recent refresh of Slack’s user interface.

Many companies use multiple vendors for video versus phone calls, team meetings versus one-on-ones. But in a remote-work world, having all of your calling tools at your team’s fingertips in Slack keeps people connected and productive,” Slack’s  general manager of platform, Brian Elliott, said in a keynote for the Enterprise Connect virtual event on Wednesday.

Slack already integrates with Teams in a variety of ways. The company announced last year that it would connect with a range of Office 365 apps in several ways. That includes the ability to export emails from Outlook to Slack, as well as preview Word, PowerPoint and Excel files without switching between the tools.

[ Related: Slack vs. MS Teams: Which is best for your business? ]

Although the two companies are considered to be competitors in the workstream collaboration market, integrations between the two rival platforms are to be expected. Slack prides itself on having a wide array of integrations available to users, with more than 2,000 third-party tools in its app store. 

Both apps have seen a huge increase in use in recent weeks as the Covid-19 outbreak has forced more people to work from home. Teams, which launched in 2017 and has replaced Skype for Business as Microsoft’s core video meetings tool, now has 44 million daily active users – and added 12 million in one week as remote working surged. 

“This is a symbiotic relationship: Slack does not want the video conferencing market, and Microsoft recognizes the significance of the Slack and its growing corporate customer base,” said Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC.  

“In my view, Slack and Microsoft work better together, and that underscores what a Slack partnership can offer Microsoft," he said. "It would not surprise me to see more companies selecting Slack and Microsoft Teams integrations that are very beneficial to customers with fast-evolving needs.”

Butterfield announced in a series of tweets last week that use of Slack has increased rapidly as demand for team collaboration tools surges. 

The number of simultaneously concurrent users rose from 10 million on March 10 to 12.5 million on March 25, particularly in areas most affected by the outbreak; the creation rate of new Slack workspaces increased by “hundreds of percent” between March 12 and to March 25, the company said.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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