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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Tired of emails? Take up the Slack app

The office communication app Slack allows teams to move from a highly fragmented collection of tools – such as email, instant messaging, social media and intranets – into a single, organised and searchable view.
The office communication app Slack allows teams to move from a highly fragmented collection of tools – such as email, instant messaging, social media and intranets – into a single, organised and searchable view. Courtesy Brandfolder
The office communication app Slack allows teams to move from a highly fragmented collection of tools – such as email, instant messaging, social media and intranets – into a single, organised and searchable view. Courtesy Brandfolder

When I worked in a big, open-plan office, my colleagues and I emailed one another rather than getting up to talk.

This worked fine, except when those conversation threads got buried under the deluge of other emails flooding into my inbox.

Chances are, if I was still there now, we would be using Slack, an office communication app – wait, it’s more fun than that sounds – that keeps all conversations and files shared between employees searchable and in one place.

You can search across the whole archive and confine certain chats to one-on-one conversations, private groups or open, office-wide channels.

The idea of having to get to grips with yet another piece of software just to send messages back and forth sounds like a pain, but Slack is actually intuitive to use, connects with services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. It also syncs, as you would expect, across all your devices.

The technology magazine Wired noted that all the early adopters of the app are “the trendy and brave young media properties” such as Buzzfeed and HBO, as well as the likes of Tumblr, Airbnb, The Wall Street Journal and Urban Outfitters – and that 93 per cent of people who try Slack keep using it.

In an interview with MIT’s Technology Review, the Slack co-founder and chief executive Stewart Butterfield, who also happened to be the brains behind a certain photo-sharing app called Flickr, explains that his new app can also help with transparency at work. There may be chat rooms about marketing or quarterly returns that it is useful for IT people or assistants to check in with, and catch up with what other teams are up to.

It also makes it easy for new employees to catch up with what is happening, as they can browse old threads in their own time. Mr Butterworth has hinted at big ambitions – he wants Slack to be the default hub of any business; the app that’s always running in the background, as ubiquitous as Facebook or Google. He is not there yet, but it is not hard to imagine his vision becoming a reality.

Q&A

Bill Macaitis, chief marketing officer at Slack, tells Jessica Holland about the app’s rapid growth:

What problem was Slack created to solve?

Teams transition to Slack from a highly fragmented collection of tools they’ve cobbled together to build their own communication fabric: email, IM, Skype, SMS/iMessage, enterprise social tools, intranets, project management software, etc. Pulling all of those disjointed conversations into a single, organised and searchable view radically increases productivity and transparency.

Can it help increase productivity?

Yes, our customers report an average 32 per cent lift in their team’s productivity.

How useful could it be to a big corporate company headquartered in the UAE?

Often the larger the company, the more siloed the communications are with people on different teams spread across different floors, offices and countries. Think of it this way: if you are part of a 100,000-person company, how much would it cost to hire 32 per cent more staff vs making your existing staff 32 per cent more productive? Slack is widely used by some of the largest companies including Samsung, Dow Jones, Expedia, Nasa, PepsiCo and Ogilvy.

How has it grown since launching in February last year?

Today it has more than 1.1 million daily active users and more than 300,000 paid subscriptions. It is currently the fastest growing business application in history.

business@thenational.ae

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