Communication is the key to success in every business and this pandemic has undoubtedly proved how accurate this advice truly is. Remote work has demonstrated that we need to learn how to communicate more clearly our messages and instructions, and that we can simplify and optimize our practices further using technology.
Email communication is outdated and now internal communication apps have become an invaluable solution for effective team conversation and productivity improvement. There are different options available online, free and paid, along with different features that adapt well for any diverse business’ requirements.
It’s essential that every company understand their internal communication needs first, before adopting software or use an app as their main communication channel. How many employees does your company have? How many teams? How often do you need to hold video meetings? Do you need a platform that allows you to keep track of everyone’s tasks? Do you need to discuss different topics with the same group?
These are some of the questions that will guide you in choosing the best communication app for businesses. Here are the 5 most popular in 2020:
Skype was born 16 years ago, in 2003, and is one of the most commonly-used communication applications worldwide. The company recently reported 200 million active users in the past 6 months and a 70% increase in active daily users after the coronavirus pandemic started.
This Estonian app—acquired by Microsoft in 2011— was originally created for online voice and video calls, but later expanded its features to include video conferencing, further developed chat functions, video messages, and more. It remains simple—compared to other modern business apps— but effective and widely adopted.
For small teams, Skype can be a great internal communication alternative. Best yet, it is free, unless the team needs to make landlines and cell phone calls.
This project management, communication, and collaboration tool quickly gained popularity after its debut in 2013. What started as an internal solution for the Canadian company Tiny Speck, soon became a popular software solution for thousands of companies worldwide. As of 2015, this messaging platform was valued at $2.3 billion, and by June 2019 it was worth $20 billion.
Everything indicates that this platform will continue to grow and satisfy diverse team needs. Slack offers a simple platform where teams have a connected interface with chat rooms, topic channels, conference options, polls, and the possibility to automate or customize each user’s experience through using simple commands with the help of the Slackbot. It also includes useful features such as file sharing and smooth integration of external tools like Dropbox and Google Drive.
Slack currently offers a freemium service. The free version has a storage limit of 10K messages per month restriction, only supports 1-on-1 video calls, and up to 10 apps and integrations. Their paid plans start at $6.67 per month and offers extended space, supports up to 15 users on video calls, unlimited integrations and more. Slack’s Enterprise Grid—which costs around $15 per month— provides 24/7 support and boasts “unlimited” users and channels.
Realizing that Skype lacked many features that modern businesses need, in March 2017, Microsoft launched Microsoft Teams: a powerful hub that integrates Skype, Office 360, a virtual office workspace, and facilitates integration with external platforms extensions.
In light of Slack’s success, Microsoft focused on developing a user-friendly platform where employees can easily communicate, share files and schedules, hold meetings, and even edit documents simultaneously during group video calls. It can support up to 20 users in group-calls started from chat, 250 users in per meeting, 5,000 members within a team and 10,000 attendees in a live event.
In consideration of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams’ paid version is currently free. Nonetheless, their paid plans stand out in the market with competitive pricing, starting at $5 a month and $12.50 a year per user.
The group video chat app that got trendy this 2020. This software has been adopted by many countries throughout the world to host business meetings, classes, live conferences and even official government meetings.
Zoom proved to be one of the best technologies available for video-conferencing allowing up to 100 users on its free version take advantage of high-quality image, sound and even have fun with special virtual backgrounds. Among its most popular features, options such as recording, screen sharing, and availability across different devices stand out. Their paid plans start at $14.99 including up to 9 hosts and sessions lasting up to 24 hours!
Despite the reported security and privacy issues, the software is a resounding success. The company has continued improving their service —they recently partnered with a security enterprise specialized in encryption— as well as updating their system to cope with high demand. Businesses with remote team members who need to schedule meetings every week will quickly discover the benefits of this platform.
Whatsapp reached 2 billion active users this 2020, so it’s not surprising to learn that businesses have been consistently using this platform for internal communication. Besides, most employees are already familiar with the interface and use it frequently; bottom-line: your messages will be seen by your team.
In addition, their Business API has allowed many companies to maintain a direct line of conversation with both their customers and team members. According to landbot.io, among the most important features, users can have the possibility to create a Whatsapp bot that manages direct chats with employees and customers. The free version allows businesses to initially interact with customers for up to 24hrs., but charges a fee for use beyond this period of time.
On the other hand, the interface isn’t as complete and adapted for work as other platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and some business could have difficulty in separating professional chats and groups from personal conversations—they both appear very similar. Whatsapp Business has proven to be more valuable for external communications.
The advantages these technologies are providing to businesses this decade could lead anyone to the conclusion that emails will eventually become obsolete. At least confusing email threads will be history soon for internal communications within modern businesses. Messaging apps and platforms bring efficiency, simplicity, and even fun to work environments, but it’s up to the teams and companies to decide which software can best meet their needs.