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Rocket Chat vs Slack: The Battle of the Chat Platforms

The shift towards remote work has brought a new kind of revolution to the global business world. Working from home has set different challenges for companies trying to manage their remote teams. Team-oriented instant messaging has emerged to bridge the physical distance between colleagues, enabling communication and collaboration as well as replacing out-of-context remarks. 

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rocket chat vs slack

To make the shift as seamless as possible, our digital marketing agency has rapidly taken on the challenge and tested two of the most popular instant messaging tools: Rocket Chat vs Slack. Here is our honest review.

Most companies are looking for Slack alternatives

Slack (an acronym for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge) excels when it comes to browsing through conversations, files, and users. Apart from its main functionality, team or group-oriented messaging, it also provides integration with various online tools such as Google Drive, GitHub, and Dropbox. Group video calls and screen sharing are also some noteworthy features.

However, Slack does have its limitations. While you can use the tool for free, you can only access the last 10,000 messages. The number of apps and integration is also limited unless you choose to opt-in to one of their payment plans. This is where things tend to get a bit pricey for a developing company with too much on its to-do list and a constant need for team collaboration.

Rocket Chat vs Slack: Pricing

Rocket Chat:

Starts free to $2 per month

Pricing model: Per user

  • Free trial
  • Free version

Slack:

Starts from $8 per month

Pricing model: Per user

  • Free trial
  • Free version

Why would you need a Slack alternative?

In 2014 Slack gained prominence as one of the first tools for team collaboration. Despite its rapid success among both business and non-business organizations alike, recent years have brought a lack of interest among investors. Morgan Stanley’s analysis shows that Slack’s stock dropped by 28% in 2020. So, what caused this staggering drop?

One of the main aspects that repelled most people with tech-savvy skills is the lack of technological flexibility and questionable data privacy standards. For example, the screen sharing feature was only made available in mid-2017, and for a long time, it was limited to calls within a single organization. This revealed Slack’s disregard towards the current market demands. 

Slack took another blow to the face in 2015 when hackers accessed their main database, and for a full four days, were able to steal user data. This is why many companies started comparing Rocket Chat with Slack in fear that Slack may not be the best fit for their organization.

Rocket Chat vs Slack: Comparison among the most important features

Below, we list some of the features we believe are crucial for any company-oriented collaboration tool and respectively compare Rocket Chat vs Slack.

Open-source

Rocket Chat is an open-source project that enjoys a very active development. This means you can access all of the features for free as well as contribute to the development and implement new features. This makes tackling different issues like security breaches as well as interface customizations much more effective. With Rocket Chat you have the option to customize the entire design, and even replace the Rocket Chat icon with your company’s logo as well as add your own CSS styles, fonts, and scripts. Recently, Rocket Chat made some major changes to its user interface which has given it a more distinguished feel.

In comparison, Slack has closed-source software. This means only the original vendors can access the code and make changes to it. Also, you aren’t able to really know or have control over how your personal data is being stored. Keeping in mind Slack’s history of security breaches, it’s no wonder that companies actively look for an alternative. Extremely limited options for interface customization, and not being able to work on collaboration features and apps to suit the specific needs of your business is another major turn-off.

Self-hosted

This is another category where the open-source project takes advantage of our Rocket Chat vs Slack comparison. You can install and run Rocket Chat on your own server and have full control over where your chat and personal data are stored. You don’t want to share infrastructure with many different companies. However, you have to possess knowledge on how to properly secure your server to avoid any breaches.

Slack is a software as service (SaaS). As safe as it can be, the fact is that the personal data of 12.5 million Slack users are stored together. This sheer number of data jammed together is very attractive for hackers, and we have already mentioned the problems Slack faced in this regard. Also, Slack requires that you install third-party apps for some vital features, such as sending voice messages. During this process, you are required to grant access to these third parties and your best bet is to hope they don’t slack off in terms of privacy and protection.

Roles and Permissions

Slack allows you to dedicate a predefined user with different sets of permissions to each user.

Rochet Chat takes this up a notch with more presets as well as the option to create your own.

Workspaces, Channels, and Off-the-Record chats

While Rocket Chat can’t begin to compare with Slack’s Workspaces, it offers public and private channels, direct messaging, and OTR (Off-the-Record) chat. During the OTR chat, all messages are end-to-end encrypted and deleted once the session is over. This option is great when it comes to exchanging sensitive information.

Integrations, Bots, and Apps

Slack features hundreds of apps that are very simple to install with some serving as bots for eternal services like Jira or Bitbucket. This is something that Rocket Chat has yet to accomplish. However, you can install a Hubspot on your server, integrate it with Rochet Chat, and provide some scripts to achieve similar functionality. Though there are many Hubspot scripts on GitHub, the ease with which you install an app using Slack is unmatched.

Both Rocket Chat and Slack allow Zapier integrations with other web services. Though Slack outmuscles Rocket Chat with 100 integrations compared to only 10, Rocket Chat already offers useful integrations such as Twitter, GitHub, and Gmail.

For all of you eCommerce enthusiasts out there, Rocket Chat has provided a helpdesk called Livechat. This is a perfect tool for providing additional support to your customers. All you need to do is enable it in Rocket Chat and copy the Livechat script to your website.

Final thoughts

Currently considered as one of the best Slack alternatives, Rocket Chat was founded in 2015 as a Live Chat tool built on Meteor. It didn’t take long for this software to turn into an all-in-one communication hub enjoying high rankings on Capterra as one of the Top 5 Most Popular Live Chat Softwares as well as Top 20 Most Popular Remote Work Software.

The biggest strength Rocket Chat possesses is the fact that it is an open-source platform with endless customizations, integrations, and security options. Though there are a couple of features where Slack has the upper hand, especially integrations-wise, with over 28k developers working on their roadmap, we are eager to witness Rocket Chat’s full potential.

As we have previously mentioned, this is our honest review. We based our conclusions on thorough research as well as countless hours of testing. If you need an extensive solution when it comes to collaboration features, you can go with Slack. However, if you want to retain more control over your data, Rocket Chat is the way to go

Brian Djordjevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Brian is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

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