Why Slack Works
Slack is a collaborative productivity application for desktops and mobile devices that allows members in users within organizations to communicate with other users and teams within the organization. Members can share messages, documents, files, and a host of other information through “channels” or designated groups of users within the organization’s pool of users. Slack is a successful software because it can help companies and organizations keep their members updated on important intraorganizational updates, project deadlines, and provide a secure way to chat to coworkers, supervisors, and other staff without the bog of exchanging emails.
In terms of how it is structured, Diagram 1 illustrates a few fundamental functions that Slack provides that have drawn organizations big and small to this mobile platform. First, Slack has a “channels” section that allows users to quickly see alerts for each of the slack channels they part of without visually overwhelming the user. Additionally, each of the channels can be designated for different departments of the organization or project teams — the specificity of the channel is up to the discretion of the channel creator, as the size of channels can range from two to an unlimited number of users. Within the channels themselves, users can create polls, post documents, share links, and react to messages of other team members.
Additionally, another one of Slack’s functions is allowing users to send direct messages to other users within the organization. This direct message function minimizes the time cost of constructing a perfect email, writing a focused subject heading, and being grammatically perfect when responding to a simple inquiry or update. Moreover, Slack’s functionality also extends to video and voice calling and screen sharing capabilities, allowing users to share more information in more than just one method of communication.
The third and final function that I believe is related to Slack’s ubiquity is its “searchable history” function as illustrated in Diagram 2. This search engine combs through all messages catalogued in the user’s organization (within the user’s Slack channels). The user can select the different filters to view messages based on his or her search query, date of message, and the channel or direct message of their choice. This function is critical to Slack’s success because it establishes Slack not only a group messaging platform like GroupMe, but also as a database to house documents and files that users can search for and refer to when they need them.
I believe that Slack’s easygoing nature, coupled with its modern, entrepreneurial brand identity, is successful in breaking down how team members in organizations and firms communicate with each other — a product of extrapolating the premise and time-effectiveness of text messaging and applying it to a professional context. Slack is also successful because of how accessible the product is, as Slack message notifications can be displayed on users’ mobile devices, desktops, and wearable technologies, allowing users to be able to bring their work with them wherever they go.