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Slack Plans to Provide Voice Integration with Microsoft Teams

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Slack plans to enable voice communications between its namesake chat-based messaging and collaboration platform and Microsoft Teams.

Integration between Slack and Microsoft Teams is slated to launch by this summer, co-founder, chairman and CEO Stewart Butterfield said during the company’s FY04 2020 earnings call earlier this month. Although Butterfield didn’t elaborate, he reiterated Slack’s intention during an analyst call last week, as reported by CNBC.

Butterfield said that Slack also plans to offer voice communications integration with other services including Amazon Chime, Cisco Jabber, RingCentral and Zoom Fun. While Butterfield said Slack will launch the integrated voice calling capabilities in the first half, he didn’t specify whether he was referring to the company’s fiscal year or the calendar year, but regardless, that would mean by July 31.

“We see more value to unlock on the go-to-market side and also with tighter integrations,” Butterfield said during the March 12 earnings call with analysts.

Ecosystem partners Atlassian, Box, Okta and Zoom helped close some large deals, he noted, signaling that even providing hooks into Microsoft Teams, could have more upside than risk to the company.

Slack already has links to other parts of Microsoft Office including Outlook, OneDrive and SharePoint, though those tools aren’t directly competitive as Teams is. Despite Microsoft’s announcement that 44 million people actively use Teams, Butterfield said Slack is winning its share of large deals.

During the earnings call, he cited a recent deal with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which signed on for a 20,000 user deployment and a Fortune 100 retailer that had put a 10,000 user Slack deployment on hold, and tested 30,000 employees on Teams before deciding to deploy Slack.

Integrating with the calling capability of Microsoft Teams makes sense for both companies, their respective customers and their go-to-market partners since many organizations use both. Some use it for different functions; others use one or the other among different groups. Vadim Tabakman, director of technical evangelism at Nintex, an ISV that provides process automation tools, said his company is among those that use both.

Nintex's Vadim Tabakman

Nintex’s Vadim Tabakman

“What’s interesting is if I need to make a phone call, I end up jumping to Teams because I can’t make phone calls through Slack,” Tabakman said. “So, I think the combination of Slack and Teams is going to be pretty exciting.”

From a go-to-market perspective, Tabakman believes the voice integration between Slack and Teams also could open some interesting scenarios. For example, Nintex, which already offered Slack integration with its workflow tool, recently added Teams support as well.

“I think it’s going to make it easier to be able to build out full scenarios around integrating with both,” he said.

The capabilities would also bring more channel partners traditionally more familiar with Microsoft Teams into working with Slack, Tabakman noted.

“A lot of our channel partners that are focused on Microsoft have been focusing on Teams, but there’s a big world out there that uses Slack,” he said. “This might add another layer for them to offer new services.”


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