The Swiftype Blog / What Makes Slack Such a Valuable Collaboration Tool?

What Makes Slack Such a Valuable Collaboration Tool?

By now, you’ve likely heard about Slack. Whether or not you use it, love it, or are generally privy to why it’s changing the way teams collaborate, you know it’s gained substantial momentum and organizations/users everywhere are seeing its value.

Is Slack Really All That?

It’s little wonder that the messaging/group chat/document-sharing application Slack has been called one of the most innovative companies of 2017. Launched in late 2013 as a simple workplace collaboration application, by last October Slack was making the workday more efficient for four million active users (including 1.25 million paying users), resulting in a very healthy $100 million in annual revenue (give or take a buck or two).

The reason for its rapid-fire success? In a classic take on the “necessity is the mother of invention” trope, Slack filled a desperate need that had thus far eluded business—delivering a user-friendly, “one stop shopping” workplace collaboration beehive that supports seamless company-wide communication.

Employees LOVE Slack

Millennials in the workplace today top the 50 million mark (and Generation Z is nipping at their heels!). Weaned on technology, they use the collaboration tool to coordinate and keep track of every aspect of their lives. This powerful workforce expects a healthy work/life balance, extreme efficiency, and opportunities for flexible working arrangements. Slack ticks all of those boxes.

Bye-bye, annoying email threads and “reply alls.” See you later, long, drawn out, boring “team update” meetings and time wasting duplicate work. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, lost documents and messed up project workflow. Instead, say hello to:

  • Group-chat channels—including text, audio, and video chat
  • Threaded messaging to assist in keeping conversations contextual, organized, and focused
  • Direct messaging and @ alerts
  • Clickable drop-down menus that help facilitate more complex workflows
  • Drag and drop file sharing (including images, PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets)
  • Superb integration and connectivity that results in all notifications appearing in Slack so there’s not more toggling between Twitter, DropBox, Asana, etc., making it easier than ever to find what you need (and even easier when you integrate Slack with your Swiftype account!)
  • Application integrations and third party app development using their API
  • Syncing ability to any smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers tied into your network, providing employees with flexible work arrangements

[Editor’s note: Features vary between paid and free versions.]

And unlike many other platforms that are difficult to integrate and even harder to use, Slack’s “friendly” interface means happy Slack users spend, on average, 10 hours per weekday plugged into the platform and 140 minutes per user per weekday actively working within the system.

Collaboration Drives Innovation

According to a recent O.C. Tanner Great Work Study, 88 percent of great work starts with an employee asking an inquisitive question, and 72 percent of great work ideas succeed because the employee speaks to many people about their solution, and incorporates diverse knowledge and viewpoints into the design.

Slack drives this type of collaboration and innovation. It encourages employees to question and communicate, problem solve, and pool talents and strengths. It helps break down silos between departments, and, especially important if you’re running a virtual or global company, allows employees to connect, work, and share ideas at any time, and from anywhere.

The Cure for the Common Chaos

So, is Slack a cure-all for excessive meetings and unproductivity? For many companies, yes. For others, it’s not perfect. It’s been said that group chat can cause distractions and meetings can be boundary-less. But Slack has ridiculously high user satisfaction scores, so it’s doing something right.

The Swiftype team, being a fan, saw the platform’s advantages and opted to build a dedicated connector between Slack and their Enterprise Search solution. This enables teams to automatically search over an organization’s universe of cloud apps (Salesforce, Dropbox, Jira, Confluence, and more) then quickly share the results. Learn more about Swiftype for Slack and how you can find everything you need without leaving where you work.