Our CEO recently announced that Icecat will be shifting towards secure communication channels. In the light of this, I give here a comparison of popular messaging channels. They add a huge value and go beyond messaging and are therefore usually termed as collaboration tools.
On top of the list are Slack, Workplace (Facebook), and Microsoft Teams. They gained a lot of popularity recently. Some of them also offer video calling functionality. There are other messaging channels such as Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord, etc, which are popular for person-to-person communication. In general, Slack, Workplace, and Teams all offer integration with bots. Further, they offer making groups both private and public, and allow searching employees and messages.
Workplace is like Facebook. So, it is more than a communication platform. It allows users to post, share, like, and live-stream. Interesting features include organization charts, user profiles, marking announcements, and allowing users to share documentation among each other.
Communication channels are mostly generic and allow many kinds of users to use them very easily. However, some features are useful for specific users such as software developers, and internal team communication. The major differences also sprout from the user interfaces, ease of navigation, and probably bias from previously using other tools. For example, some companies might need “channels”, “groups”, or some of them need to support hundreds of users simultaneously. Notification settings are important in such cases because it is easy to message all members. Slack, for example, offers notifications on mentions only, and the workplace offers functionality to mute these notifications. Integration of tools with operating systems such as macOS or Windows, and the general availability of the tools on other platforms may also be important.
Mattermost and Slack are popular communication channels among developers. The Icecat technical team uses Mattermost as a communication platform which is self-hosted and self-organized while Slack is a cloud-based architecture. Most of the features like sending notifications, audio and video call options, customization, data encryption, and data sensitivity are similar in both Slack and Mattermost. As Mattermost is self-hosted its security is not dependent on Slack. Some limitations on screen sharing and the number of people in group calls exist in Mattermost.
Security is an important requirement when choosing a messaging platform. This involves two kinds of security aspects. One is privacy, and the other is authentication. WhatsApp and Signal claim to provide end-to-end encryption. Only involved parties should be able to access the contents of the messages. In an enterprise, this can lead to enhanced trust in the company as employees feel secure to share their opinion with other employees and are not afraid of others snooping into their conversations. While authentication is necessary to make sure the platform is available only to the employees that need to be part of the conversation. Most of the platforms allow single sign-on, 2fa, and other security features. Additional security features to protect confidential information being leaked to unauthorized employees include private groups and admin-controlled groups. These features restrict who can join, view or send a message in a conversation.
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