For many in business, the primary form of communication is still email — and to a much lesser extent, text messaging.
To improve communications and collaboration among teams, there are dozens of digital collaboration tools. But the one that’s gotten the most attention recently is Slack, a business-centric messaging system that nicely complements traditional forms of communication.
Messaging is obviously big for personal communications, but it’s still growing in business situations. There’s an immediacy and casual quality to messaging that email can’t match. Unlike common and somewhat ad-hoc messaging services such as Skype and Google Hangouts, Slack is specifically designed as a team messaging system. It’s designed to help workgroups reach short-term and long-term goals in less time — which is what teamwork is all about.
Fast, intuitive, and work-related chat
As with many digital startups, the Slack hype machine is running full-bore these days. The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss wrote that the service enables “continuous, fluid, more natural conversations.” She points out that the two-year-old company is now valued at U.S. $2.8 billion, making it “the fastest growing business-to-business company in history.” Either Slack is doing something right or it’s another tech-balloon ready to pop. I think it’s mostly the former.
Slack is a free and paid service (more info). Small teams can use the somewhat-limited free account, while paid editions add more capabilities, more support, and more storage for team files.
In many cases, the implementation of Slack is another example of the business BYOT (bring your own technology) phenomena. Most new Slack users are introduced to the service when they receive an invitation from a coworker. And getting started is relatively quick and easy; once you’ve installed the Slack app on a computer or mobile device, you’re prompted to enter an existing team Slack domain — or to create a new team (see Figure 1).