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Ultimate Guide to External Federation for Slack, Microsoft Teams, & Webex

Ultimate Guide to External Federation for Slack, Microsoft Teams, & Webex

Everything you need to know about external federation between your combination of Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Webex.

But first, some instructions.

How to use this page:

This page will act as your library. All resources for federation between Slack and Microsoft Teams, Slack and Webex, and Microsoft Teams and Webex are contained on this page. Each section below also branches off to its own page dedicated to a specific element of external federation.

From learning what external federation is to getting set up for the first time, use this page as your home page. You might want to bookmark it for when you come back to it later.

We’ve designed this page to be an educational experience for those interested in better connecting their external communications experience.

With that in mind, if you have any questions along the way, please do reach out to the Mio team here. Or, if you’d prefer, you can email me directly dominic@m.io

Alternatively, if you’re already clued up on external federation and are just looking to sign up, you can install directly to the app of your choice.

Table of Contents

  1. 5 Expectations vs 5 Realities
  2. Where Will External Federation Be 1 Year From Now?
  3. 7 Problems With External Federation, And How You Can Fix Them
  4. Sign Up for External Federation Now

An Introduction to External Federation

External federation between Slack and Microsoft Teams

External federation is the process or technology required for team collaboration apps to communicate with each other across domain.

This, translated into team collaboration speak, means that users within multiple organizations, i.e. a supplier <> customer relationship, become a single group that can collaborate together.

The origins of external federation stem from the Microsoft world.

In the old days, we used Lync and Skype for Business federation to connect to other businesses that also used Skype for Business.

As a Skype for Business admin or user, you may recall adding contacts from other organizations like this…

Skype for Business federation

In the modern day of team collaborations tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Webex, federation exists in the following options:

  • Microsoft Teams Connect (available later in 2021)
  • Microsoft Teams guest access
  • Microsoft Teams external access
  • Webex external accounts

Federation exists for the use case of external parties collaborating via the same team collaboration app, like Slack to Slack.

However, in 2020 there is no native functionality for cross-platform and cross-domain chat.

So teams and external contacts wishing to communicate without switching from one app to another are at a loss.

Some teams don’t know any other way. Others are fed up of the productivity and momentum losses each time they have to move to another app to cater for a different partner or contractor’s app requirements.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom! Mio is doing something about it.

You can read the full introduction to external federation in this post

5 Expectations vs 5 Realities

Slack, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Teams expectations and realities

When you chat with external parties (suppliers, partners, customers etc), you likely have the expectation that technology is on your side.

And it is.

As long as that external contact uses the same technology.

Let’s say you live in Slack. Everyone in your company uses Slack and you’ve got a bunch of integrations installed to improve efficiencies throughout your digital work.

Your working day is working at optimum productivity.


You need to provide feedback to a contactor. Or you’ve been putting off replying to clients because your inbox is a mess.

Or you can no longer put off that impending notification that’s been there for hours on Microsoft Teams. You only use Teams for one client, so you know who it is. But, you also know what if you move to Teams, you’ll get consumed in that client so you should probably close Slack.

Or how about you call them, interrupt their day, leave a voicemail that they won’t check then follow up by email again?

External communications can be a chore. Make sure you get your expectations and realities in check.

Read 5 real federation expectations and their realities in this post

Where Will External Federation Be 1 Year From Now?

Where will external federation be 1 year from now?

If I was going to look into my optimistic crystal ball, my answer to this would be everybody uses Mio for external federation; team collaboration chaos has been quashed.

The reality is that there are a few techy and business intricacies along the way. So, it’s important to understand how we got the state of external communications we find ourselves in today before we predict the future.

In this section, we cover some stats that we uncovered when conducting research for our Workplace Messaging Report. By looking at the state of internal communications, we can make good estimates about the state of external communications.

These include:

  • 66% of companies using Microsoft Teams say they are also Slack customers
  • 3.3 is the average number of workplace chat apps used by each respondent

Also covered in this section are uses cases driving the acceleration of federation in apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

You might be the VP of Business Development and chat with partners all day every day.

Instead of keeping documents in one app and messaging with your favorite shortcuts and integrations, you spend hours per week learning how the partner works in order to protect the relationship.

With external federation, you could be building better relationships, making faster decisions, and keeping communications in one place

Finally, I reach out to industry experts, Dom Black at Cavell Group and Irwin Lazar at Nemertes Research, for their prediction for where external federation will be in 1 year.

See where external federation will be in 1 year in this post

7 Problems And How You Can Fix Them

7 Federation Problems And How You Can Fix Them

The problems with external federation between apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Webex have only accelerated the customer demand to find a solution.

It’s important to know why external federation isn’t a standard feature on the Slack pricelist, a plugin for Webex, or downloadable from the Teams app store.

In this section, I asked business leaders that manage multiple apps without external federation what their biggest problems were.

I also reached out to some familiar faces from the team collaboration industry for their take on what has been holding back federation among external contacts.

From complete collaboration overwhelm to no native interoperability between messaging platforms, we’ve compiled the biggest blockers to joining up the collaboration experience with external contacts.

See what problems have contributed to the accelerated need for external federation here

Sign Up for External Federation

As I said at the top of this post, you may already be clued up about external federation.

If you weren’t, hopefully, the posts included in each of the sections above have provided you with everything you need.

If that is the case, great!

So, what’s next?

We are working on our tool to provide external federation for Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex.

A little like our tool for connecting teams internally, you will soon be able to federate your platform choice with the choice of your external contacts.

If you need to message cross-platform to collaborate with external contacts like contractors, partners, or customers, install Mio here and start chatting to external contacts from the platform of your choice.



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Chat better, together. Mio powers cross-platform messaging across Microsoft Teams, Slack, Webex, and Zoom. Learn more at https://m.io