Can Slack kill the intra-office email?

cameron wallMessaging service Slack has created some buzz in recent months with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging his cabinet to get onto it. Here Cameron Wall explains what it is.

New lingo is being heard in many startups and more frequently in agencies and enterprise departments lately, with “Slack it to me”, “I Slacked you last night” or “Saw that on Slack” being communicated. Is Slack finally going to kill the Email star?

Email has for a long time been the “killer app” on the web since the mid 90’s until the last few years where it quite frankly has become a chore. Way too many brands, businesses and of course friends and family deploy email at will and over all those years no one has been able to fix email.

slack intro

What is Slack?

While many organisations including Microsoft and more recently Google have tried to improve and fix email, a startup called Slack was bold enough to build something else. Only launched a couple of years back the company is now valued at around $3bn.

Having worked in ICT for 25 years and digital for the past 15 I have seen the constant email burden and personal strategies to deal with it. It wasn’t until late last year when we launched RainCheck an O2O (Online to Offline) Commerce tech startup where we started to really utilise Slack.

All the tools and software we use resides in the Cloud, in fact I have used a Chromebook for the past 12 months (no hard drive at all), and have not missed a beat. Slack is no different where you can sign your team up in a few minutes and start being productive on any screen all for free.

Tech people will always find a way to use a cool cloud tool before anyone is much the wiser. I remember in 99’ when I saw one of my dev team searching on Google and said “what’s that?”, and the response was “it’s new…it’s really cool…”. Slack is no different, and just about every tech/dev team I know in all global markets use it.

How does it work?

slack screen shot

All team comms are now in one place divided into Channels, Direct Messages & Private Groups. Channels is where most of the action is and can be named after anything.

At RainCheck we currently have 30 channels with the most popular at the moment being #research, #general, #ios-app-build-v1, we have just set one up for Melb. Cup for example. You can add anything into the input field, text and just about any file type including ZIP.

Slack also handles integrations with many services we already use e.g. Google Drive, Crashlytics, GitHub, Hangouts etc. One cool integration we use is “SupportKit” which allows us to talk to our customers directly via Slack. I could be at the football and handle a support query right from my iPhone. There are new Integrations arriving each week from many vendors.

All the content that is in Slack is searchable from one single search box. Slack makes it really simple to find that link that someone posted three weeks ago that you now want to go have a look at. Not only is the search super fast and friendly, but it’s also filterable.

One to One and Private Groups are great as well. Need to gather a group of three to talk about that certain person’s performance? Then bitch away with Slack.

Some public Slack Channels cost to join like #Startup. Instigated by the Netherlands-based Startup Foundation, #Startup is a collection of 27 Slack channels covering everything from Lean Startup methodology to legal topics and reading recommendations. With around 1,500 members, the channels are lively with plenty of questions, answers and debates flying around. It costs $20 to join (mainly to weed out trouble-makers).

So whether you are sitting next to the boss or remote working from the next room, building, city or country “get your Slack on”. I must admit I was skeptical at first and now it’s my primary comms tool for work, so give yourself some Slack, it’s free!

  • Cameron Wall is founder of RainCheck

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