Around the office, the fastest way for me to get my fellow HR colleagues to roll their eyes is to mention Slack, the email-killing ultra messaging app that actually is as good as promised… or better.
Email, which is in it’s 44’th year is such a regular thing anymore, that many of us cannot imagine work without it. We all dread it, but we all love it as well, relying on its merciless threads to approximate communication as well as document conversations with the objective of obtaining that all-important CYA factor in the workplace.
Many things have come along trying to dethrone email as the preeminent non-verbal communication method in the workplace. IM, Yammer, Skype, and a thousand variations on the theme have all attempted to replace emails without ever really doing it. Gmail, with it’s threaded look and unlimited storage, and Outlook/Exchange with its calendaring, free/busy and other features are likely the most innovative and sticky updates to email since the first messages were sent nearly half-a-century ago. Google Wave was the best chance I had ever seen at replacing email… until Slack.
Here’s Why Slack Is Better Than Email and Why It’s Worth Learning
- Its everywhere already. Look, your tech guys are either using Slack today or else they wish they could (but your antiquated IT department restrictions are forcing them to stay on email).
- It works everywhere you’re already working. And more. Install it on your mobile devices, tablets and computers for a seamless experience everywhere you are.
- Communicate with people across your organization (or outside of it) directly, to groups, to private channels, or even to self-organized channels.
- It already works with all the tools/systems you already work with. Finally get away from the thousand-email-duplication tyrany along with the endless duplication of emails and attachments. Attachments are searchable. Attachments get sent ONCE. Read that again–ONCE! (Your email storage system administrator should be jumping up and down at the massive amount of email storage completely wasted by duplicate attachments right now. This business-case alone should save companies much more than a company-wide move to Slack could ever cost.)
It’s Everywhere Already
Look around in your org. Someone is using Slack already or wishing they did. Truth is that it is a bit technical. It was designed for engineers, but it’s not a green screen where you need to known XHMTL to do anything productive. You can do a heck-of-a-lot of coding with Slack (and your teams already are) but everyone else can use it to.
It Works Everywhere You Are
Its on Mobile (push alerts, baby). It’s on your desktop. Need to catch a message and you’re not at one of your devices? It’s on the web. Boom. Now you’re a productivity rockstar because you can stay in touch with anyone, anytime, anywhere, seamlessly. No funky session control problems (Lync) either, leaving you out of your own conversations when you stop using one device and pick up another.
It Helps You Communicate, Like, Effectively
Email lists, self-made distribution lists, hallway chatter, out-of-office messages, skype status updates or whatever else we use to try and explain to people the nuances of our workdays can all be done in one place. Yes, that’s right. One place. Let your teams communicate to each other, with each other, around each other or any other way they want by giving them the tools to “Let a thousand flowers bloom”.
Everything your company is doing (and spending) today to approximate communication is being done seamlessly in slack by companies cooler than you, hipper than you, and significantly les burdened by corporate blah blah than you.
Do you use Dropbox for that? Slack integrates nicely. Want to send attachments. Drag and drop. Oh, creative uses a different tool? It’s there already. Need to video chat with that person? Google Hangouts integrates out of the box. So does whatever that other thing you’re using. Your IT department can get JIRA alerts sent/received managed through Slack. Your Dev teams can get alerts about builds breaking through Slack. IFTTT and slack can automate a billion things like calendar alerts for team meetings to letting everyone know when you’ve left the building for the day (so they can watch cat videos without fear of retribution from you).
Finally, one of the unsung heroes of Slack communication is that you can bring someone else (new hire, new collaborator) into a conversation in Slack and you can share that whole group’s history with them (if you choose). The subtle magic here is that the ever-elusive institutional knowledge of how engineering built their contest winning 2-liter bottle rocket three years ago never needs to be lost to the pages of history (and archived email PST file hell) again.
- Slack chats are searchable
- The content of FILES shared in slack are searchable too!
This means your can search for an find documents, conversations, meeting agendas, action-items, code snippets, or anything else that is shared through slack anytime in the future without a computer forensics degree or access to everyone’s email accounts.
If you don’t realize how valuable that is, maybe you should stop trying to Internet all together and go back to cranking out memos on your typewriter.
If email systems had a hip, cool grandchild born in the Internet age that was designed for the way people (endlessly) live and work in the modern era, I am pretty sure it would look a lot like Slack.
Slack is the new “use google apps for business instead of succumbing to Redmond’s tyranny of Exchange Server”
As Steve Dotto says in this great YouTube intro to Slack, “People say ‘Oh, it’s just another thing’, when really its another thing that eliminates a lot of just another things”
And that’s a pretty big thing.
(And I just thought of a follow on to this post called “Four Reasons Why Someone At Your Company Thinks Slack is Lame”)