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Salesforce plus Slack: a force to be reckoned with, or too loose a fit? A customer view.

December 2, 2020

Yesterday Salesforce announced it is acquiring business instant messaging app Slack for the not inconsiderable amount of $27.7bn. Salesforces’ Marc Benioff called it a, “match made in heaven.” At G2 we rely on the voice of the customer - our data suggests that Benioff may have a point.

Compare and contrast: Slack is the #1 in business instant messaging 

Did Salesforce spend its billions wisely? Rather than postulating on the deal without, well, data, we looked at some of G2’s 1.2m+ reviews for data comparing Microsoft Teams, Salesforce Chatter, and Slack to see what real customers were saying about their experience using these software for Business Instant Messaging. In just about every measure, Slack takes the #1 position - critically in responses to whether the software meets requirements, and is easy to use, and setup. Slack’s mobile app, web app, and integrations beat both Microsoft Teams and Salesforce Chatter. You can see the G2 Comparison here for yourself (and for that matter, compare any other software you’re interested in right now).

So Salesforce just acquired the best instant messaging tool on the market? Yes, this checks out, and there is clear demand in its user base. One recent reviewer of Chatter remarked, “In short, it would not replace true instant messenger applications similar to Microsoft or Slack.”

There are different areas of strength, and as we see from the reviewer’s comment above, sometimes the comparisons we are immediately drawn to are not the ones real buyers and users are thinking about. For example, Microsoft Teams’ scores for audio and video conferencing lead those of Chatter and Slack, but audio and video conferencing are - for the time being - often regarded as separately purchased solutions. You don’t use Slack to host your meetings, you likely use Teams, Google Meet, or Zoom amongst others.

Compatible differences: bringing together different user groups

Salesforce Chatter and Slack bring together two different user groups, and scales. According to our data, the majority of Chatter reviewers, 46.5%, came from mid-market companies (51-1,000 employees), whereas Slack’s majority, 44.6%, came from small businesses (50 or fewer employees). Anecdotally, Slack has also been the standard choice for software professionals, especially developers. Salesforce, on the other hand is, quite unsurprisingly, deeply embedded in the world of sales, marketing and service. Looking at the data, and the history, there seems to be considerable joint opportunity in adjacent markets and teams.

We know that with the move to remote work focus on connecting people has never been sharper. Given Microsoft’s often engrained presence in businesses due to its Office productivity suite, for many expanding into its Teams offering was the easiest path to achieving that focus. Microsoft is also a trillion dollar company, and Slack - while a unicorn several times over - is not.

Disruptions in market share? Perhaps just different markets

The purchase of Slack by an enterprise-focused tech giant like Salesforce could also disrupt the tense harmony Slack and Microsoft Teams have established in terms of their target markets. 

Slack is a small business favorite while Microsoft Teams, because it comes attached to enterprise editions of Office 365, is the collaboration suite of choice for enterprise-level businesses. While the majority of Chatter’s G2 reviewers hail from mid-market companies, 36.7% of the product’s reviews were left by enterprise employees. It’s highly speculative at this point to say that Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack will disrupt the enterprise business instant messaging market for sure, the potential is notable. 

Will Salesforce give Slack the push to breach the enterprise market? Frankly, probably not

Microsoft Teams and Google Meet provide video and audio conferencing capabilities that empirically haven’t been answered properly by Slack. Unless Salesforce intends to pivot Slack in that direction or drums up more funds to acquire an established video conferencing solution (who knows anymore?), the current business instant messaging market share distribution will remain unchanged.

An engaged community that doesn’t, er, slack?

We will have to wait to see how Salesforce integrates Slack into its portfolio, but I strongly suggest that Salesforce invests some time reading through Slack’s 25,942 reviews on G2 if they haven’t already. They demonstrate the strength of community and engagement that Salesforce is acquiring, and how that can benefit the buyers, and users of business software.

My only other immediate suggestion? Please don’t combine names for the new product, Slack plus Chatter should not equal Slacker.

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