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Skype or Slack? SWOT analysis of online communication tools

Ausarbeitung 2016 17 Seiten

Informatik - Internet, neue Technologien


Table of contents

1 Introduction

2 Common online communication tools
2.1 E-mail
2.1.1 General Information
2.1.2 SWOT-Analysis
2.2 Instant messaging tools
2.2.1 General Information
2.2.2 SWOT-Analysis
2.3 VoIP - Internet telephony
2.3.1 General Information
2.3.2 SWOT-Analysis

3 Instant messaging tools
3.1 Slack and Skype - a brief Introduction
3.2 SWOT-Analysis by the comparison of Skype and Slack
3.3 Result

4 Conclusion


1 Introduction

In today’s world, the possibilities for communication via Internet have become very common both in private and business matters. Messages can be sent from one corner of the world to the other in the blink of an eye, be it via e-mail, as the technological advanced version of letters, instant messaging with the frequent extra opportunity of a video talk and Internet telephony (VoIP) as a much more inexpensive way of phoning via Internet. In a rapidly increasing globalized world now more than ever, time is money when it comes to entrepreneurial actions and at the same time of essence for private purposes as we have got used to rapid communication. As an inevitable consequence, people’s attention span as well as patience related to communication or demanding access to information has been reducing drastically. Expectations regarding a safe and extremely fast way of communicating are very high and continue to rise.

In the present paper, various ways of virtual communication will be illustrated. In this connection, first common possibilities of communicating virtually such as e-mail, instant messaging and VoIP will be presented before two major and popular instant messaging tools available on the Internet, Slack and Skype, are going to be examined in greater detail by pointing out their strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with the help of a SWOT-analysis. This is supposed to figure out the most effective, efficient, useful and safe communication instant messaging tool. Further, it aims at figuring out which tool(s) will prevail in the future and therefore stand(s) the test of time.

A conclusion will summarize the findings.

2 Common online communication tools

2.1 E-mail

2.1.1 General Information

The e-mail (electronic mail) represents the first and original communication tool of the Internet and has taken the place of postal mails for some time now. The reason for this relies undoubtedly on the fact that e-mails can transfer information in the form of text or to a degree as files to any person around the world in seconds as long as the recipient possesses an e-mail account as well as an access to the Internet in any way. Not only can any message be composed much quicklier than a written letter, it can also be saved in a proper order on the online server of the respective provider. This way, one is able to find even very outdated messages that one might need for a particular purpose. Apart from that e-mails play an essential role concerning confirmation mails since online orders have become very common throughout all kind of customers worldwide. Moreover, e-mail has been enabling a way of communication between teachers or various instructors to keep in touch with the students’ parents. Simultaneously, e-mails give students the chance to reach out to their teachers or instructors, respectively, when exams are just around the corner or presentations need to be held but urgent questions on the part of students have not been answered yet.1

2.1.2 SWOT-Analysis

In the following, a SWOT-Analysis is going to be carried out concerning “e-mails” as an online communication tool.

Strengths: An e-mail presents a convenient way of sending messages almost in real- time. Further information in forms of text files or pictures can be attached without any effort. This virtual communication tool is also a relevant part of online trading since it informs the customer of finalized orders right away. Also, in connection to applications, numerous enterprises require online applications that can only be realized by means of using an e-mail.

Weaknesses: For the e-mail is stored on the private inbox of the receiver on an online server, the recipient first must check his inbox to notice the new message unless a downloaded application on his or her smartphone informs him of any incoming e-mail. This leads directly to another deficit, the waiting period for a response on the part of a recipient. The amount of attachable files is sometimes limited subject to the respective inbox provider.

Opportunities: The main advantageous possibility is certainly to be found in the rapidness and convenience of applying e-mails as an online tool to communicate messages and information in general.

Threats: Errors concerning the online server where the inbox is stored on can hinder the accessibility to the file even if this happens very rarely. In case of a missing alerting system, the recipient can miss necessary and important messages or information which is due in particular circumstances.

2.2 Instant messaging tools

2.2.1 General Information

In the year 2004, instant messaging, usually abbreviated by IM, was used by more than 50 million US-Americans and had already been used more than e-mail by almost a quarter of them at that time. Compared to face-to-face communication, instant messaging comes second by a third of the people. If one takes a look at the various versions of messengers, one can always find the same structure. They usually consist of a buddy list, which contains friends, family members or other acquaintances one prefers to stay in contact with via IM.2

2.2.2 SWOT-Analysis

Strengths: A clear advantage is the immediate messaging at any time and the higher degree of convenience than e-mail since one does not have to log into one’s account but can leave the respective messenger active all the time. The obvious difference between the two ways of linguistic exchange is that instant messaging takes place non- verbal. Moreover, it is both available for different smartphone systems such as Android in the version of for example Whatsapp or for computer based operating systems such as Windows like messengers of various providers. Further, common, daily emotional expressions, which are always presenting an aspect of someone’s personality in a way, can be conveyed with the help of so-called “emoticons”, downloadable in various types, often for free. It is not uncommon these days, especially between young people, to mix a variety of emoticons to express one’s feelings. Further extras that messengers provide are letting your contacts know about your availability, your present location and even about your current emotional state depending on the individual messenger.3 Moreover, a buddy list makes it possible for individuals to create their own list of contacts and therefore provide so-called presence awareness, which means two users of each contact list always know about each other’s current status.4

Weaknesses: A striking deficit of instant messaging is the lack of face-to-face interaction in order to convey emotions. There might be individually more complicated situations, in which an emoticon might not suffice to convey one’s mixed messages.5

Opportunities: Personal relationships of short or long distance can both benefit from instant messaging as it helps the relationship to sustain a permanent communicative exchange. Because no face-to-face interaction is required, individuals can avoid a real confrontation with their dialogue partner by letting forward his or her message when he or she thinks of it and by not being forced to call or meet the person. This also facilitates conflict management and diminishes anxiety, in particular in relationships, regardless their private or professional nature.6However the different emoticons might look like in shape or color, they always put across an emotional message that at least to an extent might be considered as a surrogate for facial expressions and gestures.7 Concerning the buddy list of a messenger, the individual has the option to divide individual contacts into particular groups in order to create specific social circles or identify them according to one’s own will, respectively. This reminds of social separations that people consciously or unconsciously do anyway as everybody has his or her priorities. As a result, instant messaging simplifies this process in technological ways as mentioned above. Because individuals have complete control of the features of their messenger, they can decide themselves what they want to disclose besides having the option to block contacts that are disturbing to them or they do not want to have any “virtual” relation to anymore.8

Threats: Owing to the comfort that instant messaging provides when it comes to interpersonal communication, it could contribute to ignoring more and more face-to- face interaction that is essential for a healthy and functional human relationship. Further, emotionally more complex situations between two dialogue partners that are communicated with the help of instant messaging can result in misunderstanding and therefore do not correspond the initial intention of the sender or receiver of the expression, respectively. Another critical aspect is that instant messaging inevitably results in a constant disclosure of information related to one’s privacy.9

2.3 VoIP - Internet telephony

2.3.1 General Information

VoIP, standing for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a way of online communication enabling a user to carry out voice calls by means of a broadband Internet connection. Depending on the individual service provider, phone calls can be made only to subscribers of the same provider or even unlimitedly to anyone in possession of a telephone. Concerning the technical hardware the user needs a PC or Notebook with an Internet connection, being a cable modem or high speed connection such as DSL or a local area network. Some service providers offer the possibility to apply one’s own key-operated telephone. In case of using a computer, a particular software as well as any type of microphone or headset is needed. For applying a key-operated telephone a VoIP adapter is required.10

2.3.2 SWOT-Analysis

Strengths: The virtual way of communicating via VoIP offers various strengths. First of all, a broadband Internet connection such as DSL or cable modem is sufficient to benefit from making a phone call via VoIP. Further, the user does not have to pay for the VoIP services as they are for free if the phone call is made from a computer to another. From a more fiscal perspective, Internet telephony exhibits a relatively low taxation compared to ordinarily local telephony. Further, VoIP phone calls can be carried out at any place as long as a broadband Internet connection is available which is pretty common in almost any household these days. Further, video conversations and conferences as well as audio conferences can be held via the Internet, pictures or any other files can be exchanged parallel to the conversation. In addition, VoIP offers a range of extra features such as call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, voicemail or three-way calling.11

Weaknesses: An essential weakness of VoIP telephony is certainly the often poor quality of voice, which results in regular echo or static noises.12A further blind spot is the entire dependency on the individual broadband Internet connection, which significantly determines the voice quality of the VoIP call. Because VoIP works via the broadband Internet connection, it does not possess an internal power line the way a usual telephone line does. In addition, emergency phone calls cannot be carried out effectively since they cannot be traced back by operators.13

Opportunities: Due to low costs, the distance of the VoIP call does not matter. This way for example business affiliates can keep a steady communication involving low costs. In particular smaller business benefit as well as the international business trade profits from that. At the same time long-distance relationships which are becoming more and more usual due to globalization can be facilitated by enabling the partners to communicate more often. Lower expenses also result from the fact that no additional cables are necessary, which especially businesses benefit from for example in case of moving. As VoIP also comes along with manifold advanced communication features, it enables you to talk with two people simultaneously on the phone.14As a consequence, business or private matters can be taken care of more effectively and efficiently.15

Threats: Due to the lack of an integrated power line or battery, VoIP phone services will be useless in case of blackouts. Another particular disadvantage strikes the eye if it comes to an emergency call, which can decide on somebody’s fate. In contrast to IP calls, VoIP phone calls are not able to be traced back by the phone companies owing to the circumstance that VoIP basically involves the data transfer between two IP addresses. Furthermore, the subjection of the VoIP call to the quality of the Internet connection results in the downside that in case of a parallel use of the computer the quality most likely will deteriorate if not become absolutely inaudible.

At last the phone connection via the Internet exposes private data to the Internet, which presents a general risk due to the risk of malware, viruses, identity theft, phishing attacks or call tampering.16

3 Instant messaging tools

3.1 Slack and Skype - a brief introduction

A very common, high-rated and free instant messaging application for Windows is Skype, which was founded in 2003. It is used by more than 300 million people worldwide. Further, is has been taken over by Microsoft for $8.5 billion in the year 2011. The amount of minutes used by Skype video calls add up to amazing 2 trillion.17

On the other hand, there is the fast-growing instant messaging application Slack showing up with about 600.000 users and an active user’s growth rate located between 3-5 % each week. It was launched in the beginning of 2014. Its users collectively spend more than 100 million hours on Slack.18Even though there is a free version for small teams or unlimited evaluation, commercial versions of Slack are available called Standard, Plus and Enterprise.19

3.2 SWOT-Analysis by the comparison of Skype and Slack

The following SWOT-Analysis is supposed to compare Skype and Slack as representative tools for free and commercial instant messaging tools, respectively.


1Cf. Wikispaces: The Internet as a Communication tool. URL: retrieved: 03/06/16.

2Cf. Davey, T. et al. (2004): Instant messaging. Functions of a new communication tool. Indiana: University of Notre Dame, Department of Anthropology, Blum, S.(publ.), pp. 1 et seqq.

3Cf. ibid.

4Cf. Alexander, P. (Entrepreneur, publ.): Should your business use instant messaging? URL: retrieved 03/10/16.

5Cf. Cf. Davey, T. et al. (2004): Instant messaging. Functions of a new communication tool. Indiana: University of Notre Dame, Department of Anthropology, Blum, S.(publ.), pp. 1 et seqq.

6Cf. Hertlein, K. M.; Ancheta, K.: Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Relationships: Findings from an Open-Ended Survey. In: The Qualitative Report 2014, vol. 19, article 22, p.5.

7Cf. To, N. M. L. (2008): Influence of emoticons on message interpretation in computer mediated communication. Academia (publ.), p.2.

8Cf. Davey, T. et al. (2004): Instant messaging. Functions of a new communication tool. Indiana: University of Notre Dame, Department of Anthropology, Blum, S.(publ.), pp. 1 et seqq.

9Cf. Hertlein, K. M.; Ancheta, K.: Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Relationships: Findings from an Open-Ended Survey. In: The Qualitative Report 2014, vol. 19, article 22, pp. 7 et seq.

10Cf. Federal Communications Commission: Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). URL: retrieved 3/10/16.

11Cf. TechandSeo: Advantages and Disadvantages of VoIP. URL: protocol retrieved 3/10/16.

12Cf. Kumar, A.: An overview of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In: Rivier College Online Academic Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, spring 2006, p. 9.

13Cf. DeSantis, M. (2008): Understanding Voice over Internet Protocol. US-CERT (publ.) URL: p.3., retrieved 3/10/16.

14Cf. verizon wireless: Support. 3-Way Calling FAQs. URL: way-calling-faqs/ retrieved 3/10/16.

15Cf. ProgrammerWorld.Net: What are advantages and disadvantages of VoIP? URL: retrieved 3/10/16.

16Cf. ISP Reviews: Advantages & Disadvantages of VoIP. URL: http://www.isp- retrieved 3/10/16.

17Cf. Digital Stacks / Gadgets: By the Numbers: 24 Amazing Skype Statistics and Facts. URL: retrieved 3/10/16.

18Cf. ibid.

19 Cf. #slack: Pricing Guide. URL: retrieved 3/10/16.


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Titel: Skype or Slack? SWOT analysis of online communication tools