What's the best business collaboration tool?

What’s The Best Business Collaboration Tool?

Teams vs Slack vs Zoom vs GoToMeeting vs Google Hangouts

Even before 2020, collaboration tools were considered increasingly fundamental across business landscapes. Now, with companies depending on file sharing, remote collaboration, video conferencing, and importantly, telephony, we’re seeing an overall 400% increase in collaboration app traffic. And, it’s hardly surprising. 

However, a brief look at this rise doesn’t answer the one key question — what is the best business collaboration tool? At Callroute, we wanted to understand business collaboration tools at their heart, so we surveyed 791 businesses in 2020 about their usage, especially with regards to telephony. As you can imagine, the results were rather revealing, but not altogether surprising.

Use Of Business Communication Platforms

Key Takeaways From Our Research Include:

  1. Businesses typically use between two and three collaboration tools.
  2. All of the tools are used more as “one of many” compared to their use as the “main” tool.
  3. Teams is the most used platform — both in terms of total use and as the main platform.
  4. The only answer that had a greater percentage of main users (compared to occasional users) was “none of the above”, most likely indicating proprietary systems.
  5. One in ten rely on a conferencing platform for their telephony needs.

Ultimately, users need inclusive collaboration that covers all bases, especially where communication (and telephony) are concerned. While there are a few close contenders, including Zoom (used by 58% of respondents), Teams very much comes out on top. That makes sense considering that around 81% of the companies currently shifting towards cloud-based working are using Microsoft Office 365 to do so. And, of course, a Teams transition is the natural next step.

The Importance of Phone Calls in Business

Sadly, many of the applications on offer right now fall down with regards to telephony. With a background in telephony at Callroute, we are acutely aware of the importance of making phone calls in modern business. 56% of business owners still state that the most popular way for customers to contact them is by telephone. The use of so many different collaboration tools (within and between businesses) makes telephony a unifying communications channel. 

One thing that makes Teams stand out is the number of integrated calling options — although, only 5% of daily active users actually have these capabilities. The relative complexity of effective calling integrations using standard solutions likely explains this. But 27% of those we surveyed said that they intend to use Teams to make calls. If you want to learn more about your options, check out our blog — Phone Calls with Microsoft Teams.

Pro tip: It’s important to check the integration time of providers when considering options. In some cases, integration can take up to a week. At Callroute, we’ve integrated the PSTN and Direct Routing breakout with Teams into one solution, dramatically simplifying and accelerating the integration process — allowing you to get started in minutes, for free, at the click of a button.

Fundamentally, by adding real calling capabilities to a business collaboration tool, you can transform it into a complete unified communications platform that is able to unite both your internal and external communications. This brings significant benefits including:

  • Centralisation of data — communication history and contacts.
  • A single access point for all communication channels.
  • Greatly simplified remote working, and easier transition between remote and on-premise workflows.
  • Access to a business phone number, even when working from home.
  • Streamlined and more effective workflows.

Suggested reading: Is It Possible to Use Just One Collaboration Tool for Business?

Digging Deep to Find the Right Tool

It’s our contention that the best business collaboration tool is the one that you can use to effectively unify your communications system. Find a tool that you are able to use to replace legacy infrastructure and truly streamline workflows and remember the importance of telephony to that outcome.

Microsoft Teams is the most popular solution on the market today, and that is in part because of its calling capabilities. However, it’s important to look at all the details. Only by comparing Teams against Slack, Zoom, and others can you determine whether it’s the right option for your overarching collaboration needs. So, here are the top collaboration tools for your perusal, listed in order of popularity according to our research group.

1. Microsoft Teams

Originally launched in 2017, Microsoft Teams now has over 115 million daily active users according to the latest figures, making it the most popular collaboration tool on the market. Its solid place within the so-called “Microsoft Stack” is largely to thank for this, with full integration to other Microsoft applications at the click of a button. With an internal Calling Plan option, and sophisticated Direct Routing solutions that can integrate a fully functional business phone system inside of Teams, Microsoft has one of the most comprehensive and powerful options on the market.

  • Pricing: Free – £17.60 per-user/per-month with complete Microsoft packages.
  • Best used by: Medium to large corporations familiar with Microsoft who are looking to unify their entire communications infrastructure. In fact, Teams is already used by more than 70% of large organisations in the UK.
  • Main features:
    • Full integration with Office 365
    • File and screen sharing
    • Instant messaging
    • End-to-end security with multi-factor authentication
    • Video conferencing with the option of background blur

Key takeaway: Teams is the most all-inclusive collaboration tool on the market, a fact that’s led to widespread use throughout a variety of business landscapes according to our research.

2. Zoom

Despite its 2020 label as the “party app”, our research shows that Zoom is the current go-to for small business use. In fact, usage was evident in 58% of businesses with less than twenty employees. While it doesn’t offer the same chat, organisational or file sharing capabilities of Teams, Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing programme that knows what it does and does it fairly well. Top-end packages can host 1,000 participants at a time, and the easy-to-use and access platform offers integration without the need for training.

  • Pricing: Free for personal use – £240 for unlimited business services per-year
  • Best used by: Small businesses looking for simple external collaborations with easy one-click meeting options.
  • Main features:
    • One-on-one meetings
    • Group conferences of up to 500 participants
    • Screen sharing in even large meetings
    • Price plans for various business needs

Key takeaways: Zoom is increasingly popular in the small business sphere thanks to ease-of-use, flexible pricing, and reliable video conferencing. However, it becomes a bit of a one-trick pony for companies looking to expand their collaboration efforts beyond video conferencing alone.

3. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts, soon to become part of the Google Meet umbrella, was the third most popular collaboration contender amongst our research respondents, with 36% using this tool. This singular communications platform focuses on the idea of communication across a range of channels and is integrated within the G Suite, though iOS and android options are available. Traditionally Hangouts has been considered a platform for single or personal use, but flexible business pricing plans and increasingly business-focused improvements have seen Hangouts enjoying around 60 thousand active daily users.

  • Pricing: Changes are afoot in the Google family but, as of writing, Hangouts ranges from free to £13.80 per-month, depending on usage.
  • Best used by: Companies already using Google systems but looking to improve video/chat capabilities.
  • Main features:
    • Built-in screen-sharing
    • Instant unlimited messaging
    • Voice calls
    • Intelligent muting
    • Auto-screen focus

Key takeaways: Hangouts is still finding its feet in the business sphere, meaning advancements are still very much underway. However, while Google is starting to make ripples, it still has a long way to go before contending with Teams and the like.

4. GoToMeeting

It may be lesser known than other options, but GoToMeeting is well-established within video conferencing, as evidenced by the fact that it came only a little behind Google Hangouts during our collaboration platform usage research, with 23% of users. This intuitive tool offers affordable bandwidth and a variety of conferencing options, each of which seek to take the challenge out of long-distance working.

  • Price: £11 – £15 per-month
  • Best used by: Small-medium businesses working with long-distance remote employees, but looking to perfect communications regardless.
  • Main features:
    • HD conferencing
    • Optional toll-free numbers for 50+ countries
    • Desktop/application sharing
    • Virtual whiteboards
    • One-click recording

Key takeaways: GoToMeeting has unique benefits such as the option for toll-free numbers, but there’s no free option, and each addition comes at a price. Comparatively, with Callroute’s Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams, the free Starter channel may be sufficient to support a small or medium business’s entire calling needs. What’s more, meetings within GoToMeeting are limited to 26 people, pretty much ruling out use in large enterprises.

5. Slack

20% of participants reported using Slack, a powerful messaging app that offers an ease-of-use, text-message feel. Recent interface changes have focused on even easier usage, with alterations to message display, accessible commands, and more. Focused very much towards the millennial user, Slack is really the closest competitor Teams has in terms of offerings. However, generally higher price points and fewer options mean that Slack still slides to the bottom where our research is concerned.

  • Price: Free – £9.75+ per-month
  • Best used by: Mid-large businesses looking for intuitive text collaboration within a millennial workforce.
  • Main features:
    • Integration with up to ten apps
    • Large-scale collaboration with support for up to 500,000 users
    • Centralised controls
    • Project-friendly structures
    • Intuitive controls for a modern audience

Key takeaways: Despite Teams and Slack being relatively similar, this contender can’t come close to Microsoft’s offering. It doesn’t have the same integrated calling options, or native support of Office 365 programs. That said, Slack’s millennial focus does make it an appealing option for young workforces, especially when it’s used in collaboration with other tools. However, using multiple tools is, itself, a problem for business productivity — which is why we’d recommend unified communications with Teams and Callroute.

The Collaboration Platform to Get Everyone Talking

Collaboration tools are undeniably fundamental to modern business, and they only look set to become more so as remote working becomes the office norm. Sadly, many of the collaboration tools currently on the market seem to entirely miss the station where telephony is concerned, leaving countless companies using as many as three tools to get the job done. That’s bad news for time, productivity and money, and it needn’t be the case.

Using Teams as your central communication platform and integrating Direct Routing capabilities enables you to consolidate all you communication systems into one place. Our unique Callroute Direct Routing technology offers instant integration so you can place calls from Teams in minutes, and our flexible per-channel pricing offers significant cost savings so you pay for the demand your business needs rather than every user.

If you already have Teams, experiment with how real calling capabilities can improve workflows using our Direct Routing solution.

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Intermittent Microsoft Teams calling issues reported globally. This issue appears to be affecting all Microsoft customers worldwide. Microsoft are currently investigating the issue. All Callroute systems are fully operational. More information will be provided as soon as possible.