Why Slack's Team Collaboration Platform Is Catching On

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-03-04
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Why Slack's Team Collaboration Platform Is Catching On
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    Why Slack's Team Collaboration Platform Is Catching On

    Here's what makes Slack a suitable replacement for many of the individual team collaboration applications that companies currently rely upon.
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    It All Starts With Company Channels
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    It All Starts With Company Channels

    The core ingredient in Slack is a feature called Channels. After setting up a company through Slack, users will be able to organize their team conversations into open, individual channels, in which all team members can share ideas and thoughts and collaborate. Since everyone can see the ongoing discussion, it's similar to a Twitter timeline or Facebook's News Feed, but for work teams inside an organization.
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    Private Channels Are Designed for Sensitive Data
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    Private Channels Are Designed for Sensitive Data

    Slack also comes with a Private Channels feature that is locked down to invited team members. Those Private Channels are designed for the sharing of "sensitive information," and since only invited users can participate, no others will be able to see what's being discussed within those channels.
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    Full Messaging Support
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    Full Messaging Support

    If team members want to have individual conversations, Slack comes with an instant-messaging platform. The service, which is baked right into the Slack interface, allows anyone to open a direct-message window with another user and have a private conversation. In addition to text, users can share emojis and files in those conversations.
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    Drag and Drop and Store All Types of Files
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    Drag and Drop and Store All Types of Files

    Slack comes with the ability for users to share just about any type of file with others. So, if a user wants to send a PDF, Word document or image to another, it's easily done by either uploading it to Slack or dragging and dropping into the Slack window. Better yet, Slack supports Google Drive, Dropbox and Box, so users can paste the link to a particular file on those services and immediately sync it with their Slack channel.
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    The Interface Makes It Easy to Catch Up
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    The Interface Makes It Easy to Catch Up

    One of Slack's advantages is its design. The interface is clean and the channel listings are pushed off to the side, providing a large area where users can see what others are saying and sharing. There's also a handy bar at the top of the feed telling users how many messages they've received since they were last using Slack. Clicking that bar brings them to the first message, so they can quickly scan all of the latest team content.
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    Slack's Search Is a Useful Tool
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    Slack's Search Is a Useful Tool

    With Slack's search app, users can type in everything from a single word to the name of a document, and it will scan all available channels to see where a document resides. Clicking on the item will bring users back to that moment. Slack also indexes every file so nothing is ever lost.
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    Slack Provides an App Marketplace for Add-on Features
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    Slack Provides an App Marketplace for Add-on Features

    Slack's app marketplace is what may keep many users coming back. At the app marketplace, users will find a directory of add-ons that can be installed in channels. Better yet, those apps are broken down based on industry or type, allowing, for example, a marketing firm to track recent outreach to clients. There are also several apps designed for accounting and human resources, as well as add-ons that let users engage in customer support from within Slack.
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    Slack Claims Its Platform Reduces Email Fatigue
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    Slack Claims Its Platform Reduces Email Fatigue

    The company claims that by using the Slack collaboration platform, team members can reduce the number of emails they send and receive by nearly 50 percent. But note that the data that supports this claim is based on the company's own surveys of paid Slack teams. In addition to reducing email fatigue, Slack improves productivity, according to those surveys, with users claiming team productivity is up 32 percent with Slack.
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    There Is Broad App and Operating System Support
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    There Is Broad App and Operating System Support

    Slack has ensured the collaboration platform works on multiple platforms. In fact, the app is available on Mac and PCs, as well as Android and iOS. There are also betas available for Windows Phone and Linux. The mobile apps come with the same design scheme and features as the desktop app, including file sharing and direct messaging.
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    Here's How Pricing Works
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    Here's How Pricing Works

    Slack is available for free to companies that want to create different teams and search through the 10,000 most recent messages. Larger companies seeking the ability to search an unlimited number of messages, among other features, will need to pay $6.67 per user per month. That figure jumps to $12.50 per user per month for enhanced security and 24/7 technical support. Looking ahead, Slack says it will add an "enterprise" version that's designed for very large companies that need to integrate Slack with current data sharing platforms. That will cost $32 per user per month.
 

About two years ago, a startup named Slack said that it could improve how business teams work together, communicate and share information. After starting small, the company's growth is gaining momentum. In February, Slack announced that it now has 2.3 million daily active users, up from 500,000 just a year ago. Despite that growth, the vast majority of enterprise IT decision-makers simply don't know what Slack is and why its constellation of services, including messaging, file sharing and social networking, could help both small and large companies improve employee productivity. After all, many of those IT decision-makers already use Slack's popular competitors, such as SharePoint and Basecamp. So they may not be on the lookout for something new. But the startup's recent growth suggests it's on to something and Slack's online services might be worth a closer look. Read on to learn more about Slack and why the fledgling startup believes it can ultimately become a suitable replacement for many of the individual team collaboration applications companies currently rely upon.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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