Amazon.com, Inc.'s (AMZN) interest in messaging startup Slack Technologies, Inc. might seem odd when you consider the difference in their business models and the industries in which they work. However, closer analysis reveals that an acquisition of the corporate chat tool could bolster Amazon's revenue from its cloud business. (See also: Messaging Startup Slack Draws Said to Draw Interest From Amazon – Bloomberg.)

Research firm Gartner, Inc. (IT) has estimated that the market for unified communications, or online apps that combine a seamless communication experience, is expected to reach $22 billion by 2020. It is also a market that is attracting a wide range of players and tech behemoths, from Facebook, Inc. (FB) to Microsoft Corporation (MSFT). (See also: Facebook Enters Enterprise Productivity Space With Workplace.)

Despite its cloud market leadership, Amazon still lags enterprise productivity leaders Microsoft and Alphabet Inc. (GOOG​) subsidiary Google by a wide margin. But Amazon is taking steps to remedy that gap. According to a report in tech publication The Information earlier this year, Amazon is bundling together its email, file storage and video conferencing apps, upgrading its email solution (WorkMail), and improving its document sharing and editing solution (WorkDocs). Earlier this year, Amazon acquired Chime, a conferencing tool, and Do, an app that makes it easier to prepare for meetings. (See also: Amazon Chimes Into Workplace Productivity Market.

Amazon's aggressive push in the enterprise productivity space is a delayed reaction to gains already made by tech rivals. Currently, the company's cloud services are restricted to storage and data processing. In contrast, Microsoft, which leads the online productivity market, earns significant revenue from Office 365, its online productivity software, and has a separate unit dedicated to cloud productivity solutions.   

According to data released last year, Slack racked up average growth rates in paid seats of 34.4 percent last year and increased its daily active user count by 33 percent within six months. The startup, which could cost Amazon up to $9 billion to acquire, had annual revenue run rates of $100 million. Those figures could boost Amazon's cloud revenue and growth rates. (See also: How Does Slack Work and Make Money?)

 

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.