Technology Spotlight: Slack

In October of last year, anti-email software company Slack garnered a $1.2B valuation. Slack provides applications in various formats to support different ways of communicating in the business world, other than by email. Direct messaging, group chats and other collaborative resources are provided in order to increase productivity. Partnering with various third party vendors (Google Docs, GitHub, Dropbox, etc.), Slack vows to put an end the era of email.

As Gigats explains:

Typewriters, the internet, email and smart phones are just a few pieces of technology that have revolutionized the workplace over the past several decades. The introduction of new workplace tools has made our lives easier. Email made a storm in the early 90s, offering an opportunity to ditch paper memos and streamline the communication process in offices around the world. Regardless of the amazing contribution it has provided, Silicon Valley thinks that it is about time that we do away with email. The startup Slack announced this past April that it had raised $43 million in funding and was valued at about $220 million. The wealthy organization has built a type of anti-email messaging system designed to create fluidity in work collaborations.

Slack is just one of many companies currently initiating an assault on email, a trend that might be called the New Work movement. Slack, and sites like it, borrow from social sites such as Twitter and Facebook to create their software. On Slack, the middle of your screen is turned into a stream of messages that allows employees to chat about projects and share documents instead of emailing back and forth. The idea behind Slack and other startups like it is to keep more people in the loop about what’s going on. The software also allows users to create a private space for chatting with few coworkers and to search quickly though chat sessions to find specific information.

The companies all tote the idea and promises of easing your work life and allowing you to get more done with less effort. In the Silicon Valley land, where most of these software programs have stemmed, it makes perfect sense where task management and step-by-step processes rule. But many are wondering if the applications will have much use outside of the non-traditional company setting. For people in the regular corporate world, critics predict that Slack won’t work.  Critics believe that Slack removes the venue for quiet conversations that email provides and replaces it will a daylong, reply-all email chain without an opt out option.

Whether we like it or not, something is going to stick. Email will go by the wayside, replaced by something newer, sleeker and more productive. If you are the type of person that has trouble letting go of the familiar (i.e. you still have a flip phone AND a landline), you might want to gear up for change.

Traci Kingery, PHR is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in immigration and talent management. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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