For those of you who know me, I’m a huge fan and user of Slack; both the company and the product. Here are some things that Slack has done and continues to do right:
- Social Media: They know how to use social media to connect with their users. They respond to every tweet and do their best to help you. If they can’t help you they connect you with somebody within Slack that can help.
- Integrations: Out of the box they offer an extensive list of products and services that they integrate with. This is a HUGE one as I use many of these integrations when I setup my new Slack groups. Oh, and did I mention that they work and they work as you would expect to work.
- API: The Slack API is very well thought out and documented. I have developed several bots, some simple and some quite complex using their API. There isn’t much you can’t do.
- Just enough features: Slack doesn’t try to be all things to all users. I’m hoping that Slack continues to carefully craft the user experience in the same way that they already have.
- Mobile, Web and Desktop: Right out of the gate they offered first class desktop, the web and mobile clients. All that worked very well.
- App Store/App Directory: Need I say more.
It’s these six things that make Slack a company and product to admire. There are so many companies trying to take on Slack and there are some other products that do what Slack does. Bottom line is that they are not Slack the company and Slack the product.
I expect in the forthcoming weeks, to see other companies announcing products to challenge Slack’s dominance and I’m looking forward to seeing how those new products align with the six things I outlined above, if at all.
One of the major challenges with getting people in organizations to adopt new collaboration tools – or social business technologies – is helping them to understand what their work would look like if they were to shift to the new way of doing things. Often vendors talk about their products through the lens of features and functions, which is definitely helpful but not enough by itself.
As an independent collaboration strategist, one of the ways Michael Sampson works with clients is to help them understand what’s possible by developing scenarios of how work would be different. Michael’s first book, Seamless Teamwork: Using Microsoft SharePoint Technologies to Collaborate, Innovate, and Drive Business in New Ways (2008) took this approach for conveying how people could use Microsoft SharePoint for running a project. It starts with Roger who works at Fourth Coffee who is given a project to run, and is expected to use SharePoint 2007 for that. Michael’s most recent book, Doing Business with IBM Connections (2013), takes the same approach for IBM Connections 4.5, but covers ten different collaboration scenarios.
- Co-Authoring Documents
- Managing Meetings
- Holding Discussions
- Distributing Team and Organizational Updates
- Capturing Ideas for Innovation
- Running a Project
- Sharing Learning and Best Practice
- Making Decisions
- Finding Expertise
- Achieving Individual Coherence
The book is set in a fictitious company called Albreto, and the adoption and use of IBM Connections starts in the Marketing Department and works its way out from there. Michael’s book is designed as an adoption resource, and is much more about the business and human things that need to work in each scenario rather than just focusing on where to click in Connections. For example, in the Document Co-Authoring scenario, there are specific steps given for how to co-author a document, but there is also reference made to the human dynamics of writing a first draft that allows scope for collaboration, and there’s an advanced concepts discussion at the end of that chapter on how early stage collaboration can reduce the quality of input. This style of approach is followed throughout Michael’s book.
If you are using IBM Connections, it would be a great resource to have available for your users. If you are not using IBM Connections, it would be a great resource to review for the approaches in each scenario. Those approaches are very transferable.
(With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Michael is running a special offer at the moment on his book. You can get 20% off the price of the paperback editions, or the corporate licensing fee for the e-book version. All the details are here – www.michaelsampson.net/thanksgiving.html)