Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Why Slack collaboration catches on where others can't

Users like Slack because it poses fewer hurdles for workers striving to communicate and share documents, compared with other collaboration tools.

Each quarter, the editors at SearchContentManagement recognize a content management technology for innovation and market impact. The product selected this quarter is Slack.

Product

Slack collaboration software

Latest release dates:

Mobile apps: iOS 3.0 April 2016;
Android 2.10.0 May 2016.

Latest desktop applications:
Microsoft Windows 2.0.3 April 6, 2016;
OS X 2.0.2 April 26, 2016;
Chrome OS 1.0.3 December 6, 2013.

What it does

Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool that enables users to chat one-on-one or in groups, as well as share documents. While Slack began as a communication tool, as it gains currency among enterprises, it is broadening into a collaboration platform with capabilities beyond just messaging.

Why it matters

While there are numerous collaboration tools on the market, from SharePoint to Jive to Huddle and Basecamp, Slack collaboration's claim to fame is a real-time communication tool that doesn't take workers out of their native application environments to exchange information.

With its various application programming interfaces and integrations, it's easy for employees to work in Slack, but also to build capabilities on top that access documents and information from within the application, rather than having to toggle between numerous apps to get information.

Slack is also known for being developer friendly. It's possible to build capabilities on top of Slack that meet particular business needs. At Spredfast, a social marketing company based in Austin, Texas, engineers built capability on top of Slack that enables them to send You Earned It (YEI) points to employees -- points redeemable for cash -- to recognize their good work. They can receive and redeem points seamlessly within Slack.

While the tool began largely as a chat platform, it is widening its reach into areas of traditional enterprise content management functionality to overlap with other collaboration software such as SharePoint -- Microsoft's "Swiss Army knife" tool for collaboration and content management.

Feature drilldown

Channels. This feature enables you to generate communication among team members, either internally within an organization or externally.

Private groups and one-to-one messaging. Slack supports more traditional communication among team members and groups, which enables teams to share sensitive information privately.

File sharing. Instead of sharing files via email, employees can share documents directly within the Slack collaboration app.

Open APIs. Slack is built on the premise of integration with other applications, so developers describe the tool as easy to build on top of and integrate with business processes and other applications. Spredfast, for example, built custom functionality on top of Slack to manage a large number of templates and visualizations. The Vizbot identifies where templates are stored by ID or name, indicates the last person to work on it and helps deploy Spredfast code into production with a custom process.

Mobile messaging. Through the Slack mobile app, employees get notifications on their phones. But it also recognizes that constant messaging can be disruptive, and new functionality, such as the Do Not Disturb feature, enables workers to set their phones to indicate their DND status.

Search. Messages and files added to Slack are immediately searchable, so users can return to documents and discussions when needed. Suggestions in the search box minimize the typing and effort associated with searching.

What users say

Given their off hours, Spredfast's engineering team members started using Slack to communicate on projects. Soon after, adoption spread to the rest of the company's 500-plus employees. With the ability to build capabilities on top of Slack, such as the redeemable YEI points, Spredfast finds the Slack collaboration tool flexible and easy to integrate with its roster of other tools.

"We believe that connections between your tools make things so much easier," Courtney White Lowell, Spredfast's director of global communications, said. "You don't want one tool to do everything halfway. You want best-in-class tools, but you want them talking to one another so the [experience for users] feels seamless."

Slack took hold at Spredfast because it didn't disrupt or refashion the way users worked, but instead enhanced existing processes, White Lowell said.

Tools like Slack enable workers to increase productivity rather than work harder just to communicate. "It worked for the way our teams work," White Lowell said.

Slack pricing

All licenses are per active user, per month, as follows:
Free
Standard: $6.67 billed annually or $8 billed monthly
Plus: $12.50 billed annually or $15 billed monthly
Enterprise: Coming soon. Contact Slack for details 

Next Steps

Enterprise collaboration claws its way back to must-have

Questions remain about collaboration software usefulness

Using collaboration inside and out

This was last published in May 2016

PRO+

Content

Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.

Essential Guide

Understanding real-time collaboration tools for business

Join the conversation

5 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

How is your company using Slack, or other technologies, as a collaboration tool?
Cancel
We are using in Binfire
Cancel
Removing barriers between applications, creating a one-stop shop for collaboration has given Slack a head start on their competition. Being more developer friendly is just icing on the cake, especially as younger employees prefer to work how they want to work using the tools they want to use.
Cancel
It's always a bit disturbing to see people think that chatting and sharing information is enough to get their work done and consider this as collaboration. Sometimes you have to produce work by yourself or as a team. You need to get work organized, to set priorities, manage activity.
Cancel
Rafaelbordier, that's an astute comment, though I might turn it around some. I think the problem is that these tools don't always incorporate enough feature-wise to stand up beyond simple chatting. They need to incorporate real project management, easy document collaboration and native-to-the-app-users-work-in capabilities. That's what makes collaboration more than chat. Development tools and APIs also enable better integration with other apps, work processes and so forth.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchBusinessAnalytics

SearchDataManagement

SearchManufacturingERP

SearchOracle

SearchSAP

SearchSQLServer

Close