Google and Microsoft Face New Challenges from Facebook and Slack
By Jim Lundy
(Aragon Research) – I’m heading to a Slack Event today where it is widely anticipated that Slack will make some announcements that some have speculated will put it more front and center in the enterprise. Facebook is doing exactly the same thing with Workplace by Facebook. These moves by Slack and Facebook present a direct challenge to the workplace business of Google and Microsoft. This blog is about the challenges that Microsoft and Google will face from the shift in focus by Facebook and Slack.
The Workplace Is Changing and Users Want More
In the digital era, the workplace continues to change and present new challenges and mobility is one of the challenges that incumbents need to embrace. Mobile Collaboration is all the rage in consumer land, but Mobile Messaging in the enterprise is still developing (note: Aragon is publishing its second Tech Spectrum on Mobile Collaboration this Friday, February 3rd). Slack’s growth is an example that a startup can create demand by differentiating itself.
The Slack challenge has not gone unnoticed. Microsoft announced Teams as a separate mobile offering from Skype for Business last fall. It is a direct face-off to Slack (see our Blog Post). Google has not been standing still, either: Google Hangouts has been on the market longer than Teams and it works extremely well on either the desktop or on a mobile device. One of the interesting tidbits about the Slack event today is that one of the featured speakers is Diane Green from Google (more later on this).
The Digital Water Cooler and Workplace by Facebook
The threat posed by Facebook’s move into the enterprise could cause more headaches for Google and Microsoft than Slack. The reason for this is that Google or Microsoft could easily buy Slack and end that threat. Facebook is larger and has billions of users. The idea of Facebook for Work is how Jive and IBM have grown. It is also the reason that Microsoft bought Yammer in 2012 for $1.2 Billion.
The Facebook threat is a double whammy. Facebook Messenger has a huge install base and while Workplace by Facebook is still in Beta, it has been gaining steam with positive reviews from enterprises that have deployed it. The promise by Facebook is that it is secure, since every instance of Workplace by Facebook is a private instance. The challenge for both Google and Microsoft is to counter Facebook, and currently, their answer to workplace collaboration is their respective Cloud Office Suite—namely G Suite by Google and Office 365 from Microsoft.
The Digital Workplace Is Evolving
Suffice to say that the Digital Workplace is evolving. No one has the perfect solution and the reality is that in a Cloud based world, enterprises often have a number of different product offerings they count on to get work done. We will be watching the Slack announcement today—more later.