Communication tools are a dime a dozen these days. Every new one either claims to offer something unique or else presents itself as the best way to do the same things its competitors offer. And the heat is only going to get hotter.
According to a report by Grand View Research, the collaborative software market reached a giddying valuation of USD 8.19 billion in 2017. If you think that is amazing, then you should know that things are projected to only get better from here. The same report puts the expected CAGR of the industry at 9% year-on-year till 2025.
Thanks to the increased use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tech, communication tools are only going to get better. Obviously, this is good news for the developers as they get to pioneer better and easier ways to connect teams from across the globe. Do you know who else should rejoice at the news?
You. And your team.
With every communication tool improving how people interact with more and newer features aimed at increasing productivity and the general speed of doing things, the user can only be the winner.
In fact, the proliferation of outstanding communication tools poses something of a dilemma for those who use remote communication to get things done. What is the best communication software for the team? How do I choose the right tool that matches the team’s structure, goals, and budget?
I’m sure that if you could, you would try out all the communication tools on the market to find which is best for you. Alas, time is money and things need to get done on time. Under such circumstances, other teams might be forced to pick communication software at random and sink or swim with the services it offers.
But you? First, you read this roundup of the best communication tools available right now and make the right decision for yourself and your team. After going through this article, you will be in a better position to assess the relative strengths of communication software out there and pick the tool that best suits your work.
However, first things first: here are the things you need to know about collaborative tools.
Communication Tools… The Breakdown
Communication tools include applications, programs, and hardware that help you to communicate and collaborate with other people, including members of a team. A communication tool can be online like Skype or offline like a conference room. It can be hardware like a mobile phone, but the vast majority of modern communication tools are online software and applications.
Communication tools include email, digital and web conferencing, file sharing, remote task managers, screen mirroring, social messaging, and other software for interaction and collaborative work management.
There are lots of communication tools on the market. They range from generic tools aimed at the mass market to niche software more suitable for highly specialized teams. Nonetheless, there are a plethora of communication tools for basically every need:
Business correspondence (emails): Gmail, Yandex.Mail, Outlook, etc.
File sharing: GDrive, Dropbox, Apple iCloud, FileCloud, etc.
Chat and messaging tools: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc.
Video conferencing tools: Skype, Zoom, Zoho, etc.
Knowledge base tools: HubSpot, Quip, ServiceNow, etc.
Project management tools: Trello, Active Collabs, Basecamp, etc.
To choose the right collaborative tool for your team or business, you have to consider several factors. Among the most crucial are:
The size of your team. Some tools are just right for small to medium-sized teams, while others are capable of serving the needs of huge corporations.
Your budget. That fabulous-looking software may be what you have always dreamed about, but the reality of your budget might point you towards a tool with a more affordable subscription model.
Your tasks. The features of different communication tools make each one better at some kinds of team tasks than others. Some provide a method to share files right within the software, while others depend on external/integrated file sharing solutions.
The Best Online Communication Tools Ever
Here are six of the best communication tools in 2019. They are online, they are popular, they are awesome:
- Rocket Chat
Each tool is outstanding in its own way, with stellar qualities that make it a prized medium of communication and collaboration for employees and dedicated team members. Below, we run the rule over each tool, explaining its core features, functionality and pricing model.
Blink — a communication tool that provides deskless employees with the same perks as their colleagues working from behind a desk
Blink is specifically designed to make the frontline employee king. The app is deployed with the special needs of employees who work outside the office complex in mind. A feature such as workplace messaging lets them communicate as equals with their peers in HQ. The Feed, meanwhile, allows management to quickly spread company news to everyone. The Hub feature provides instant access to company documents, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Blink acknowledges the yawning chasm in communication between deskless employees and HQ and fills it with effective communication features, allowing drivers, cleaners and delivery people to contact each other and their direct supervisors quickly. Admins and moderators can share important news through the company Feed and also monitor peer-to-peer group Chats for faster response.
Blink is a comprehensive tool that features analytics among its core benefits. Important data on an individual employee, a team or the whole company can be gathered through the Admin Portal, while Hub analytics measures how reports and downloadable company documents are handled.
What makes Blink so great is its straightforwardness. Anyone can be added to the company’s feed, and there is no requirement to have an email address. Customized content is delivered to each user’s personalized feed, and engagement can be measured through the user’s likes and comments. Peers can lead efforts to promote adoption by company holdouts, further enhancing the ability of the organization to effectively communicate with all its employees.
Blink is heavily integrated with third-party tools like G-Suite, Office 365 and Trello, and you can build your own integration through the app’s public API. There is a Blink app for every mainstream platform like Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, and you can also use it from a browser.
Value for Money 4.5
Features & Function 5
Subscription model: $3.40/month per user. A free 14-day trial is available.
Zoho Cliq — perfect for small businesses, providing messaging, calling, video conferencing, and task-setting capabilities in a single window
Cliq, from the stable of Zoho, is a class apart from most similarly marketed communication tools out there. Its emphasis on a streamlined team communication experience makes it the best choice for both smaller companies and larger organizations. The multi-pane view in Cliq lets users monitor all their ongoing group and personal conversations in one window, enabling faster response and transmission of ideas.
Cliq lets the user do more than just message. Audio and video calls and screen sharing get everyone on the same page, while the Channels feature makes for a seamless collaborative experience among team members and across organizational divisions. With PrimeTime sessions, disparate teams that are scattered all over the globe can come together for seminars, brainstorm sessions and more.
Cliq offers a variety of extra tools that extend usability and enhance collaboration. You can set reminders and search for files, users and conversations right from the chat screen, while ad-hoc group chats, event creation, and drag-and-drop functionality expand the range of contextual collaboration.
What you can do with Cliq can be extended even further through integration with popular business applications like Google Drive, Zendesk, Asana, Trello, Zoho Desk, Zoho CRM, Zoho Expense, and Zapier. The ability to select the number of participants in a group video call (up to 100 users), transform your workflow with interactive forms, and execute routine chats with in-built smart assistants makes Cliq the tool of choice for many businesses.
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Cliq from Zoho is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. Its efficiency and flexibility, along with unlimited storage, make Cliq a compelling option.
Value for Money 5
Features & Function 5
Subscription model: $3.00/month per user. A free version is available with some limited functionality.
Fleep — a messaging network serving as the complete hub for all the digital workplace tools you will ever need, topped up with a native task management feature
Fleep takes the social media template and applies it superbly to the concept of teamwork. Conversations are a strong suit in Fleep. You can begin a chat around any subject and make use of pin boards to highlight key decisions and tasks and coordinate organizational and team objectives.
Fleep interaction works much like social media. You can search for Fleep users or teams and start a conversation with them. The ability to add people outside the organization to Fleep Teams makes it easier to speedily benefit from expert collaboration. Contextual files and images can be accessed through the File drawer, while the task management tools enable you to assign projects and track progress.
Beyond being a beautiful blend of email and instant messaging, Fleep sells itself as the ultimate hub for workspace integration. Fleep integrates with file sharing tools like Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox, software development tools like GitLab, BitBucket and JIRA, collaboration tools like Trello, Slack and Confluence, and automation tools like IFTTT and Zapier. Video chat and conferencing are available through integration with Whereby.
Fleep is a cross-platform tool, making it easy to use across various devices. It is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Value for Money 5
Features & Function 4.5
Subscription model: $6.00/month per user. A basic plan is available for free.
Slenke — a project management tool with an emphasis on deeply integrated time, task and communication management
Slenke, since its founding in 2012, has gone big on the project management side of collaborative communication. It downplays the audiovisual aspect of team collaboration in favour of a rich textual offering designed for seamless communication among team members. It incorporates the features of a calendar, email, and instant messaging into a beautiful software tool that allows you to plan a project from start to finish with maximum input from every member of the team.
With Slenke, you can create messaging boards that allow you to arrange your workflow in a way that suits everyone. You can arrange by team or by progress or set a custom parameter and use timelines to further organize workloads. Team polls and time tracking provide useful analytics regarding team responsiveness and engagement, while custom task templates let everyone get to work faster.
Private and team chats in Slenke make for effective contextual communication. And the tons of integration make the software a winner despite the lack of native video call and conferencing solutions. You can add that functionality thanks to Slenke’s integration with Zoom, Google Hangouts and a handful of other video-capable tools. You can carry over the tools you’re already using through Zapier integration with support for over 500 apps.
Complementing the clean Slenke interface is a notification system that delivers information in real time, whether you’re using the browser version or the desktop application for a Windows PC or Mac.
Value for Money 4
Features & Function 3.5
Subscription model: Starts from $15.00/month per user. You can try Slenke Starter for free.
Flock — a revolutionary business messenger that makes collaboration easier with easy-to-use file sharing, task creation, note-taking, and calling tools with robust integration to workspace solutions
Flock is one of the few standouts in the crowded team communication ecosystem. It rises far beyond the limitations of many group messengers with its all-in-one chat module that combines the very best of team interaction, task scheduling and tracking, and creative collaboration. Everything you need to start and finish projects is provided in a clean and intuitive interface that melds the best features of simple messaging and contextual communication.
With Flock, you can give greater visibility to important chats by pinning them to the top of the chat bar and avoid the pitfalls of distractive talk by muting channels and chats that aren’t relevant to the current task. The directory feature lets you easily find channels to join, and you can use the video call feature, along with screen sharing, to start and sustain in-depth engagement with remote teams.
With the Search function in Flock, whatever you seek — be it an employee, team, channel, or resource — is at your fingertips. Features like To Do and Notes let you transform real-time conversations into tasks and make the most of brainstorm sessions. And you can easily drop images, videos, documents, and even applications and links into a conversation from a local source or cloud storage.
Flock is a team collaboration tool with a difference. It also functions as a hub through which other productivity tools can be maximized, negating the need to have multiple tools open all the time. Trello, Airtable, Paperform, Slack, Asana, GitHub, Facebook Lead Ads, Twitter, Reddit, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Doc and Google Calendar, Office 365, and many more integrations can be found in the Flock App Store.
Flock is available on the web and on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Chrome OS.
Value for Money 5
Features & Function 5
Subscription model: Starts from $4.50/month per user. A free plan is available.
Rocket Chat — an open-source alternative to email and Slack with unlimited texting and video chatting and file sharing
Rocket Chat is a great alternative if you’re looking to transition your team away from the tedium of email communication. It offers an instant upgrade over repetitive BC and BCC. With Channels and Private Groups, you can broadcast team-wide or company-wide messages to everyone at a stroke or communicate instantly with the members of a select team. With the option to host chats on a local server rather than the cloud, you can ensure extra security of your team communication.
Being open-source, Rocket Chat can have its range and functionality extended by its users. This makes it appealing to those with a bit of technical knowledge. You can brand the app to reflect your organization’s unique brand and install integrations or make Rocket Chat a plug-in in other productivity applications.
Rocket Chat is more than a rival to Slack in name only. With its Slack Importer feature, you can migrate your team without breaking a sweat. Also, you can wave HipChat adieu with the equally competent HipChat Importer. What’s more, Rocket Chat provides an easy environment for cross-linguistic communication with its support for instant chat translation in 40 languages.
With Rocket Chat’s priority chat settings, everyone knows where they should focus their attention at any given time. Video and audio calls with screen sharing enhance the experience further, whether on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, or the web.
Value for Money 5
Features & Function 5
Subscription model: Starts from $3.00/month per user for the self-managed plan and $2.00/month per user for the cloud plan. The community plan is available for free.