Group chat apps are the cornerstone of every contemporary organization today. In most companies, team communication and collaboration are vital to everyday business. It’s no wonder that one of the first apps to get introduced in organizations undergoing digital transformation.
Why exactly are group chat apps so important for the workplace?
Different studies show that:
- effective communication can increase productivity in organizations by 25%
- businesses relying on effective internal communication tools are 3.5 times more likely to deliver better results than their competitors
- frequent employee communication and enhanced collaboration tools make 76% of remote workers feel connected to their organizations and peers.
However, one might feel lost when starting their purchasing journey: there are a lot of group chat apps on the market. This piece will help you navigate the process, so you end up with the best solution for your team.
What makes the best group chat app?
1. Ease of use
Ease of use is the #1 criterion when it comes to workplace chat apps. It’s simple: if the chat is clunky, slow, and hard to navigate, people will avoid using it.
User-friendliness will also lead to decreased use of alternative communication means that aren’t suited for the workplace, for example, WhatsApp or other consumer-oriented apps.
2. Messaging essentials
Every team chat should have essential chat features that help users get the most out of its everyday use. This includes features such as:
- Threads, channels, and discussions: so you can have contextual or project-based conversations
- Read receipts: it lets you know if your message was received and read
- Presence indicators: helps you determine which team members are online, and which aren’t
- Message scheduling: allows you to write a message and send it later — an essential feature for effective asynchronous messaging
- Notification silencing: to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it’s important to silence the notifications coming from the mobile group chat during non-working hours
3. Ability to fit in with the rest of your tech stack
The group chat app is just another tool in your portfolio, and as such, needs to fit in. Team members need to effortlessly switch between their Kanban boards, document editing software, video conferencing apps, and team chat.
In lean industries such as Tech, this is a given. But, not all industries and organizations are always up to date with their software. Some rely on rather large, clunky systems for their core businesses.
In that case, you can opt for open source messaging platforms that are highly customizable. With their open APIs, you can connect your core software with your new group chat and streamline work communication.
4. Regulatory compliance (region + industry) and data control
If you live in the EU, you are surely aware of GDPR, a data privacy regulation that aims to control how personal data is used.
If your organization works with the Healthcare industry in the US, you must know about HIPAA, an act devised to protect personal patient data.
There are other laws and regulations that software vendors must comply with in order to operate in a certain region and industry. After all, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations.
5. Scalability and flexibility
A scalable group chat app will follow your growth and the needs that come with it. It needs to function well with a larger number of users just as it did when your team just started.
Moreover, check if the app is flexible enough to support your extra needs. For example, some of your team members might need to collaborate with external partners. Check how that can be facilitated.
Top 6 group chat apps to try in 2024
Rocket.Chat is a popular group chat app used by millions of users. Powered by open source, it has enabled business messaging to users in organizations of all sizes and various industries.
Of course, Rocket.Chat features all the chat essentials: threads, channels, and discussions; it has presence indicators and allows for message scheduling.
But, what really sets Rocket.Chat apart from other group chat apps is its flexibility and versatility. This highly customizable chat allows the building of additional capabilities, specific to the use case.
⭐ For example: an airline wants a new chat room with all flight crew members to be created before the flight and archived after to make communication effective for their specific business needs.
Moreover, Rocket.Chat is designed to cater to businesses in highly regulated industries such as Healthcare, Government, Defense, and others. It can be deployed on-prem or to a secure cloud, and users can be given one of the 180+ granular roles to navigate their workspaces.
Numerous apps in Rocket.Chat’s marketplace allows users to streamline their work. For example, there is a native integration with Pexip, a secure video conferencing solution. There are also MS Teams Bridge and Slackline, apps to help you connect with users on Teams and Slack.
The versatility of Rocket.Chat as a group chat app goes beyond workplace communication: you can create numerous conversational experiences as a standalone app or an in-app chat.
Best for: organizations that handle sensitive customer data and/or work in highly regulated industries or companies with high customization requirements
- Compliant with GDPR, HIPAA, FedRamp, and other data privacy regulations
- On-prem or cloud deployment
- Matrix federation for secure external communications
- Message audits and conversation transcripts
- Requires technical knowledge to deploy in specific cases
If you think about a chat platform for business, one of the first tools to come to mind is Slack. It’s still one of the most popular group chat apps on the market.
It was the first chat app in the realm of internal communication that gained such rapid popularity. Slack successfully positioned itself as a leaner alternative to employee communication software such as intranet.
It’s a commonly used tool in the IT and tech sector, where companies were early adopters of an innovative and cheap group chat that Slack was a while ago. Since the early days, Slack has grown and partnered up with Salesforce to expand its offering.
As it developed, Slack became more expensive. It also didn’t meet the flexibility needs of teams that wanted a more customized app.
As a group chat app, Slack has all the essentials: direct and group messages, threads, and channels. Organizations across industries can use Slack if their security needs are met with standard enterprise-level security.
Best for: agile mid-sized businesses in tech or organizations preferring cloud deployment and standard enterprise-level security
- Fast deployment and setup
- Superb UI/UX
- Advanced automation and workflow settings
- Easy to integrate other apps from the tech stack
- Doesn’t meet the extensive customization needs that some organizations require
3. MS Teams
You’ve probably seen Microsoft Teams on every enterprise chat list there is. And it’s no wonder.
This group chat app has a global presence thanks to Microsoft under whose umbrella it’s being sold. In most of the world, Teams is free for organizations using the Microsoft Office package. However, in the EU it was recently unbundled from the rest of the Office package due to anti-competitiveness regulations.
As a group chat app, Teams has all the essentials: you can message people directly or in a group and seamlessly jump to a video call from the chat itself. In comparison with other tools, it is a bit clunkier and less intuitive, but it does the job.
Coming from Microsoft, Teams is built for enterprise organizations and works best with them. But, organizations prioritizing extreme data security and compliance are lately searching for MS Teams alternatives. This is due to two reasons: first, organizations in Europe are now free to pursue other options and use an internal chat of their choice. Second, the whole Microsoft 365 package has been deemed controversial in Europe since Germany banned it from use in their schools due to non-compliance with GDPR.
Best for: large enterprises outside of the EU who prefer cloud deployments
- Comes free with the rest of the Microsoft Office package and works great with all the Office products
- Enterprise-level security
- Seamless jump to video conferencing with virtual backgrounds and live captions
- It’s not clear whether it meets GDPR regulations in the EU; can be sluggish compared to other tools
Chanty is a prominent messaging app that makes team communication and collaboration easy. It’s simple and intuitive to use, which is important because it keeps users from deflecting to other communication means to do everyday tasks.
Chanty is consistently brought up in reviews of best chat apps for work for a good reason. It provides an intuitive chat interface with an option to jump on a call within the tool.
More importantly, the app incorporates simple task management features accessible via Kanban board view. Users can see all their tasks, pins, messages, and code snippets in Teambook, a centralized hub for all the work content.
The project management features are a good add-on for teams that don’t have a separate tool for that, but complex projects will require standalone project management tools like Asana, ClickUp, or Jira.
Chanty is rated predominantly positive across review sites. If your team isn’t too technical, Chanty will likely fulfill all your business chat requirements. It’s suitable for bigger organizations that need enterprise-level security.
The biggest upside of Chanty in comparison to other tools is its price. A paid plan costs $3 per user, which is a great price-performance tradeoff for a critical piece of software like a group chat app.
Best for: non-technical teams that want simple project management features embedded in their chat
- Central hub to organize all pins, messages, and tasks
- Project management features with a Kanban board view
- Unlimited message history and simple UI
- No advanced security features; project management features too basic for complex projects
Some of the special features it offers include:
- Workflow orchestration
- Incident resolutions
- Supporting agile development
- CI/CD command center
- Application and network performance and monitoring.
Built on open source, it’s often deployed in environments that require extensive customization. As a team communication app, Mattermost features real-time and async messaging with integrated voice and audio. For developers, there’s multi-language code syntax highlighting. It includes unlimited and searchable message history, which makes this group chat app compliant with data privacy regulations such as HIPAA, FINRA, and others.
Mattermost’s additional benefit is its Playbook feature, which stands for checklist-based automation that powers different workflows. Playbooks integrate processes into the messaging platform to keep all stakeholders aligned.
Best for: DevOps working in highly regulated environments and distributed dev teams that need to collaborate heavily
- Native integrations with popular developer tools
- Configurable for HIPAA and FINRA compliance
- Unlimited and searchable message history
- End-to-end encrypted messaging
- Not offering the best user experience to non-technical teams
A surprise on our list, or is it?
When you think of Discord, you think of a gaming chat. But, gamers have real jobs, and they started using their favorite gaming chat for work purposes.
Some reviews say that Discord works perfectly fine as a group workplace chat. It has Slack-like channels to keep conversations organized and on-topic. It doesn’t hurt that Discord is free, making it even more appealing for smaller teams just starting out.
Discord’s unique trait is the audio-first approach. For teams that want persistent audio while they co-work remotely, this is a great option. There are also audio and video channels, and the video quality is surprisingly good according to reviews.
On the other hand, Discord was not built for the workplace. The file uploads are limited in size, which can trump the effectiveness of the app. Another major obstacle: Discord doesn’t offer any integrations with other workplace tools. This is below standard for any other app developed to serve as a workplace chat, so when teams using Discord grow, they often start looking for Discord alternatives for businesses.
Best for: smaller teams that want persistent audio while co-working
- Superb audio and video capabilities
- Game-like user experience
- Extremely low pricing
- Lacks group chat features built for the workplace communication use case, for example, integrations or bigger size uploads
Need assistance in choosing your team communication solution?
Our team at Rocket.Chat is aware that choosing the best solution is hard with so many similar, yet different solutions on the market. If you're looking for a group chat app to help you:
- connect your distributed workforce
- comply with local and industrial regulations
- streamline team communication without sacrificing data security
Rocket.Chat could be the right tool for you.
Get in touch with our team to check if we match!
Frequently asked questions about <anything>
- Digital sovereignty
- Federation capabilities
- Scalable and white-labeled
- Highly scalable and secure
- Full patient conversation history
- Digital sovereignty
- Trusted by National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the US Army, the US Navy, and the US Air Force
- Matrix federation capabilities
- Open source code
- Highly secure and scalable
- Unmatched flexibility
- End-to-end encryption
- Cloud or on-prem deployment
- Supports compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, FINRA, and more
- Supports compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, FINRA, and more
- Highly secure and flexible
- On-prem or cloud deployment