What Is: Slack?

 In EMGI Group

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.
— Paul J. Meyer

Everyone knows that communication is key to success.  But why are we so bad at it?

Both personally and professionally, proper communication provides its perks.  It helps to establish relationships, share knowledge, and more importantly: Get things done.  Professionally this is even more prevalent.  But nowadays we simply have too many forms of communication that have made their way into our places of business.  If I need to update someone on a particular project do I email them?  Do I compose a new email, or respond to the project email thread which is already 50 levels deep?  OK, since its a quick update, ill just shoot over instant message using our [insert company’s instant messaging platform here].  Eh, they might not see that for a while since they are ‘offline’, how about a text-message?  How about the chat built into our project management application? (which nobody checks, nor updates properly).

As you can see things get messy fast, and Slack solves this problem.

Don’t get me wrong, Slack is definitely not the first to try to solve this problem.  Besides the outrageous amount of dated instant messaging platforms (AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk/Chat/+/Hangouts, MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger/Lync/Skype, Ugh, the list goes on), the more recent team-communication platforms (HipChatYammerIntraboom, Zula ), socially-focused communication platforms (Facebook at Work, SocialCast, Zyncro), SMS-like messaging apps (Lua, Zingle), you even have project-based messaging (Hip-Chat, Trello, Asana, Bitrix24).  Literally enough to drive a man insane.

In comes Slack, a chat platform created by the man behind Flickr, Stewart Butterfield.

When it comes down to it, Slack is basically a simple, minimal, modern approach to communication.  Based on IRC, Slack features one-to-one (direct) communication, group (channel) communication, and a slew of integrations (if you feel like having some fun) which help it communicate with your other application.  By leveraging the fact that people cannot get enough of SMS (text-messaging), Slack is able to mimic this form of communication and make it easy, convenient, searchable, and business-friendly.  One of the major reason they are killing email as we know it.  Yep, killing email.

It was immediately clear that Slack had something special up it’s sleeve.  Many companies quickly jumped onboard, including NASA, Harvard University, Dow Jones, NBC Universal, The Wall Street Journal, eBay, Sony, Yelp, to name a few.  With the ease-of-use, and multitude of integrations, the choice was a no-brainer, and it made Slack an over-night success.  To call Slack ‘viral’ is an understatement.

Oh and did I mention integrations?  Its crazy how many apps are making their way into Slack’s app listing (yes it has its own app listing).  Heck, Microsoft (the guys behind the handful of messaging platforms mentioned early) are even throwing in the towel as they just recently announced Skype video integration with Slack.  Theres even an app/bot that will schedule your meetings and help you order food via Slack.

Another big, and often overlooked, plus is that Slack can integrate very easily into your automation systems (whether that be CRM/Marketing/IT) as well as project-management systems (Trello/Asana).  With these integrations Slack becomes a power-house.  You can receive notifications from your website queries via Slack, and based on your automation, have the query added to a CRM, or project application.  You can then assign an employee to this query/lead via Slack.  The automation can get very detailed fun, very quickly.

Moving beyond the features that are currently available, Slack seems to launch something new almost weekly.  They are said to have a bigger focus on screen-sharing in the near future, having just purchased Screenhero.

With all of these features, it is a no-brainer that if you are not currently using Slack, its time to at least take a good look.

Interested in testing it out Slack for yourself? Head over to Slack.com, and you can even check out this little run-down to help get your feet wet.

If you find that you could use some help with app integrations, getting Slack to play nice with your automation platforms, or you are interested in getting automation+Slack setup for the first time, let us know!

We here at EMGI Group are very experienced with this type of implementation, and would love to help you get your business communicating more effectively.  After all, its the key to success, and slack will help you become better at it.

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