Slack Sets New Standard for Team Communication Online

On Slack’s Communication Service, You Can Do Without Email

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A new communication service, Slack is available to business organizations looking to set a new standard for team communication online.

Slack is made by Tiny Speck, Inc., a San Francisco-based technology team. In fact, Slack's core team built Flickr, the no-nonsense photo sharing, and storage application.

In the midst of developing a gaming application, according to James Sherrett, head of marketing, this 45-member team came up with a communication tool that as Sherrett says, had "sent only 50 emails during a three-year period." The aha!

moment came when they realized communication can "change the dynamic the way that you work with your team," says Sherrett.

Read: Culture, Process, and Technology Will Shape Collaboration

For a contemporary communication platform to be effective, it has to adapt to any device. Slack apps go where you like to work -- in a web browser, synced to your desktop, portable on a smartphone or tablet (see native apps in Pricing section).

Frustrated with email and spam? Email is practically non-existent in Slack and for a very good reason. You can use email, but it is the absence of email that directs your attention to the communication function. If you need email, Slack can send you notifications and alerts when someone on your team mentions you or includes you in a message, or when you follow a conversation, phrase or keyword.

But, if you consider taking away the business of email, you may never look back.

No more spam, no lost communication threads, or wondering where you stored a message to your teammate or boss. See more how Slack works.

How Slack Works

Channels
Channels are public communication streams and the lifeblood of Slack for all of your organization. You can establish multiple channels, join a channel, and set up a channel with just a couple of clicks.

The hashtag popularized by Twitter users is a way to pull in conversations and people around a current event or topic of interest. Incorporating hashtags in Slack channels provides a means to create conversations, from general to specific. For example, #general is a catchall for day-to-day stuff, but you can decide that. Conversely, #daily meeting would be specific.

In the early days of online communication and instant messaging, the original Internet Relay Chat (IRC) used hashtags, which not only came into widespread use but has since become a dictionary term.

Read: Hashtags Defined

Direct Messages

Direct messages are used for private conversations at any time with a team member. Direct messages are searchable content for you and the person messaging, including the files shared in the message. So you may send your boss a direct message with a report doc attached. This message along with the document will be searchable, as described further.

Private Groups

The private groups are a one-to-many relationship, with your peers, like a development team, or specific organizational unit, like HR or an executive team. In the private groups, conversations are in real time, much like the ways chat works.

Private groups have history and search so a rich stream of communication is there when you're logged into the Slack service on whatever device.

Search

All of Slack content is searchable from one search box. Conversations, files, links, as well as content integrated from Google Drive or tweets, among other services, are searchable. You can narrow your search to channels using a filter or perhaps you prefer more options to search a colleague associated with an open channel.

Slackbot

A cool agent called Slackbot helps you get information, more advanced than a help system. You can also ask Slackbot to remind you to call your wife at lunch.

Slackbot can send automated chat responses when a word or phrase is mentioned, helpful to keep you in conversations when you're away or playing hooky.

Service Integration Will Grow

Connection with other services like Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Twitter, Asana, Trello, Github, and many others can be pulled into conversations and made visible in the channel, private group, or direct message. You can let the Slack team know if there is an integration service you would like to add and they can help expedite.

Pricing

Slack has a free plan that includes up to five integrations and 5GB storage. Premium pricing includes unlimited external integrations, and increments of 10, 20, and 50GB of storage. Free native apps for iOS, Android, and Mac Desktop.

Read: Great Workspaces for Sharing and Building on Ideas