The software company Atlassian, already a major player in the enterprise technology game with its applications like Jira, Confluence, and HipChat, has released a new collaboration platform for employees and teams called Stride, to compete with existing products like Slack. Kerry Flynn at Mashable describes Stride as “all about taking action”:
It cuts down on notifications by letting users put themselves in a “Focus Mode,” and it makes it super simple to switch from text to video. The design is mobile-friendly and easy to use, not unlike its competitor Slack. But it offers features that make it arguably a better product than Slack for actually getting work done. …
One of the core features is letting users set themselves as away. That feature is available in competitors, such as Slack’s emoji statuses, but Stride allows users to actually mute specific channels, share what they’re working on, and more easily catchup once they’re done. … Any room in Stride can start a meeting and allow any user to join in via audio or video. It eliminates the need to move to Google Hangouts, BlueJeans, or another third-party video system and can encourage people to switch to video more often.
Steve Goldsmith, general manager for Stride at Atlassian, tells GeekWire reporter Tom Krazit that Stride is integrated with Atlassian’s other software products and will be available in both free and paid tiers with different features:
Workplace Analytics Screenshot (Microsoft)
Last week, Microsoft announced that its Workplace Analytics product was now generally available as an add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans. The program “taps into Office 365 email and calendar metadata, including to/from data, subject lines and timestamps, to shine a light on how the organization collaborates and spends time.” TechCrunch’s Ron Miller takes a closer look:
Microsoft is providing an overview dashboard inside Workplace Analytics and 4 standard views of organizational productivity including Week in the life, which looks at how the entire company spends time and collaborates; Meetings, which looks at the quantity and quality of time spent in meetings; Management and coaching, which measures how much one-on-one time employees are spending with their managers and Networks and collaboration, which looks at how employees are connecting across the company.
You may be thinking if it can look at positive behaviors and productive employees, it could also be used conversely to identify employees who are being less productive, but [Alym Rayani, director for Office 365,] says throughout the private beta, not one company was using it to call out employees.
Instead he said it was about looking at output versus behaviors and finding ways to improve the outcomes. For example, managers could look at the activities of top performers and learn how those people spent their day, then use that data to teach other employees to use those techniques to improve productivity
Tuesday brought multiple developments in the increasingly competitive market for workplace communication and collaboration technology, with Facebook and Microsoft both making newsworthy moves. At Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, the social media giant revealed that it had added several new features to its “Workplace” enterprise offering, Mashable’s Kerry Flynn reports:
As of Tuesday, Workplace offers new file-sharing integrations, including Salesforce, Quip, and Box. Notably, Dropbox is absent from the initial release. Facebook is also introducing bots into Workplace. Developers can build bots for work chat and for Groups to do tasks like help order food or order a Lyft. …
Facebook is also integrated with eDiscovery and compliance partners to help with exporting documents, making it a better product for companies that have regulatory restrictions and are traditionally unable to use third-party software. Workplace users can also soon broadcast live video from professional video gear.
Facebook is also rolling out some business-oriented additions to its Messenger product, Harry McCracken adds at Fast Company, in an effort to make it a go-to method for communicating with customers:
[T]his year at F8, Messenger is getting Smart Replies, a bot-based technology designed to let a business have common questions be automatically answered via Messenger–such as “What time are you open until today?”–so its proprietors can focus on responding to less typical ones. Facebook is starting off by providing this service to restaurants in the U.S.; eventually, it plans to roll it out to other sorts of businesses and in more countries.
Screenshot of Google Hire
Google is testing a new product called “Google Hire” that will allow employers to post job listings and track and manage applications, Axois reported on Thursday. The applicant tracking system appears to have been developed by Google’s enterprise and cloud services division, led by Diane Greene, whom Google acqui-hired along with her workplace software startup Bebop in 2015. Several tech companies are already using the service, which Joel Cheesman at ERE hears from an anonymous source is pretty neat:
“Google’s launching a whole HR and employment ecosystem,” my source said. “The product suite will include corporate career sites, an ATS, job feeds and ultimately an algorithm that actually helps paid job boards but will disrupt Indeed, big time.” … Companies currently using Google Hire include Medisas, Poynt, DramaFever, SingleHop, CoreOS, Nanz, Touchlab, Calendly, Citizen Inc, Pace Avenue. … Nothing near a Fortune 500 here, but it should just be a matter of time.
The move to launch Google Hire comes on the heels of its Cloud Jobs API product that was introduced in 2016. The release sparked speculation that Google was potentially laying the groundwork to launch a job board. Initial testers included CareerBuilder, Dice and Jibe. Reviews of the API were positive.
It also comes as Google and other Silicon Valley heavyweights are scrambling for pieces of the enterprise software pie. Microsoft finalized its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in December, and Facebook rolled out its own job listing feature in February. The giants of the Internet are also battling to dominate the productivity and collaboration software market: Google recently rolled out a set of new workplace tools as part of its G Suite enterprise offering, and Facebook is now testing a freemium version of its Workplace tool.
Last October, Facebook rolled out Workplace, its highly anticipated competitor to Slack and other workplace productivity programs. Originally, the service was available to businesses for a monthly fee, and free for nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, but now, the social media giant is testing a scaled-down free version in an effort to expand Workplace’s user base, CNET’s Richard Nieva reports:
Now, the free tier is called Workplace Standard, and the paid one is Workplace Premium. The software is meant for teams to use as an online office, with familiar Facebook fare like a news feed or groups. But it’s not linked to your personal account. The paid version costs $3 per user for the first 1,000 active users, $2 each for the next 9,000 active users after that, and $1 each for anyone on top of that.
The paid version also includes extras like analytics tools and administrator controls. Right now, companies including Starbucks, Viacom and Campbell’s use Workplace. …
Simon Cross, a Facebook product manager, tells CNET that the free tier was always part of Facebook’s plans for its enterprise offering, adding that it would help attract new customers for the paid product by giving them a taste of what Workplace has to offer, as well as also to attract more customers in emerging markets like India.
Google Hangouts Chat (Google)
The battle for dominance of the workplace communications technology market is shaping up to be a key trend in the tech space this year: We saw the launch of Slack’s Enterprise Grid version of its signature work-chat product for large organizations this January, the emergence of Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace as major competitors to Slack in late 2016, and now, Recode’s Tess Townsend notes, Google is getting in the game as well with a set of new workplace tools in its G Suite enterprise offering, dividing the existing Hangouts app into Hangouts Meet, a video chat program, and Hangouts Chat—which Townsend notes “looks a lot like Slack”:
Hangouts Chat is part of Google’s newest push to sell its office tools to big businesses as part of its bigger aim to take on Microsoft Office. Verizon recently switched from Office to G Suite. And the update to Hangouts Chat appears to be designed to compete with Slack. The feature will be available to G Suite customers who apply for access. The new app allows users to create virtual rooms (much like on Slack) where they can hold group conversations, and to break conversations off into threads.
Chat also includes a new bot for automatically scheduling meetings: When called up, @meet will compare Google Calendar schedules of chat participants to automatically pick an open time.
A Google executive tells Townsend that these new tools are not envisioned as a challenge to Slack, which itself already integrates with Google Drive. Nonetheless, Google has already been focusing its energies on developing chatbots and other tools powered by artificial intelligence, which also happens to be the focus of Slack’s long-term growth strategy. Indeed, the ability to integrate bots is a central feature of Google’s new product, Ken Yeung of VentureBeat observes:
Slack's San Francisco HQ (Courtesy Slack)
At the end of January, Slack released Enterprise Grid, a much-anticipated version of its signature group chat program designed to suit the needs of large organizations. TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lundgren checks out the specs on the wunderkind tech startup’s competitor to Microsoft Teams and Workplace by Facebook, which “comes with a range of features that are essentially table stakes in the enterprise software market”:
IT administrators are now be able to manage and provision multiple large teams; and, in addition to the encryption that Slack already offers, add in new layers of security and identity management (integrating with Okta, OneLogin, Ping Identity/Federate, MSFT Azure, Bitium, LastPass, Centrify, Clearlogin and Auth0); set new security and compliance controls; and new HIPAA & FINRA compliance and data loss prevention integration (working withPaloAlto Networks, Bloomberg Vault, Skyhigh, Netskope, Relativity by KCura and Smarsh, among others).
Along with this, Slack is also adding in new partnership with SAP where the enterprise services company is building a portfolio of bots to integrate with SAP services. The first three will be a Concur travel and expense bot; a SuccessFactors performance management bot; and a bot to interact with the HANA Cloud platform. This expands on the kids of relationships Slack already has in place with other B2B businesses like Salesforce and Google Cloud, and it looks like these SAP bots will work across all of Slack, rather than just for users of Enterprise Grid.
Lundgren’s colleague Ron Miller calls the new enterprise offering “the next logical step for Slack”: