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Business communications apps to keep teams on task

Workplace by Facebook is shown in operation here.

Workplace by Facebook is shown in operation here. Photo Credit: Facebook

Two weeks ago, Facebook launched Workplace to compete in the growing business communications area. Here’s a look at Workplace and three other popular communication and collaboration apps. While all are free to download, they typically are used as add-ons to paid programs. 

Slack

(iOS, Android; free)

Slack has grabbed a large niche in the business communications area, especially among employees who work online. Slack connects “teams” who share messages, photos and work documents through various “channels.” Slack’s basic platform is free, but companies needing more features can upgrade to Slack Standard for $6.67 a month per user. Microsoft reportedly considered buying Slack earlier this year for $8 billion, but the deal didn’t happen.

Skype for Business

(iOS, Android; free)

After not buying Slack, Microsoft added features to its Skype for Business application. Unlike the free Skype, which limits 25 people to a conference call, as many as 250 employees can attend a Skype for Business conference call with high-definition video. Because it’s owned by Microsoft, Skype for Business interacts seamlessly with Word and PowerPoint. Skype for Business costs $5 a month per user.

Yammer

(iOS, Android; free)

Also owned by Microsoft, Yammer, like Slack, is aimed at helping workers communicate directly through a social network instead of traditional email. The structure is also similar to Slack: You set up teams, where you share documents and collaborate on projects. Most of Yammer’s features are free, but to get more powerful collaboration tools, there’s Yammer Enterprise, a part of Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription service, starting at $8.25 a month per user.

Workplace by Facebook

(iOS, Android; free)

Workplace is Facebook’s first foray into hardcore business apps, and the interface is similar to traditional Facebook. Businesses set up teams that allow members to share documents, messages and projects. There is also the ability to have group chats and make video calls. You cannot access your regular Facebook through Workplace, a feature that will make bosses very happy. Workplace has a tiered pricing structure of $1 to $3 a month per user depending on the number of employees using the service.

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