Corporate social networks are not a new premise. The corporate social network Yammer which was acquired by Microsoft in 2012 has been slowly toiling away behind the scenes, but you don’t really hear about it. I think it is safe to say Yammer has failed.
Facebook reportedly have been readying a product called “Facebook for Work” which is exactly what it sounds like. An internal version of Facebook that allows internal communication within a company.
Entering the fray in 2013 Slack has absolutely dominated the corporate and startup sector. The last two places I worked at used Slack for internal team communication. It is evident that Slack is the new internal social network, albeit more simple.
The simplicity of Slack in that it is a more modernised version of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) which was especially popular during the 90’s is what makes it so appealing. It is effortless to setup an organisation on Slack and the paid plans have various means of allowing companies to export logs of data for auditing purposes.
Not only could Slack be considered the new corporate network in how organisation wide public channels function as a news feed of sorts, it also competes with the need to use internal email. Instead of emailing someone you can Slack them. Yes, “Slack them” is an actual thing people say now.
I have also joined a few public Slack communities recently. Even though Slack is meant for organisation based communication, people have taken it and made it into this public thing. I just recently joined a Slack community called Reactiflux which is centred around React.js. It boasts almost 500 users.
I honestly find myself using Slack on a daily basis more than I do email or Facebook which is interesting. From discussing code problems to server issues and sharing Gifs around, you can use Slack for so many things which make it more than just a chat tool.
Then there are the plugins. You would be surprised how many plugins there are for Slack and how easy it is to build your own. The place I worked at previously used it for alerting various channels when a build was taking place and each step, it would notify various channels if the build had passed or failed.
We also had a little robot that we could query for various pieces of information about the state of servers. We could ask it what the current deploy commit ID was, if the API server was up or down and a few other cool things you would traditionally use a dashboard or separate application for.
That same company someone built a little nifty plugin that broadcasted what you were listening too in Spotify to a #nowlistening channel where you could see what people were listening to.
The company as of its last valuation was rumoured to be just over one billion dollars. The same price Facebook purchased Instagram for a couple of years ago.
If Facebook does launch a Facebook for work, it might succeed in some aspects, but I think Slack is a pretty hard thing to compete against as more and more companies adopt and use it. Not only that, the public are rallying behind it and using it in ways that Slack probably never envisioned it being used for.
While Slack is definitely vested in being the go-to startup/corporate communication tool, it is arguably so much more than that. Should Facebook be worried or is Slack merely a trend that will die out as people lose interest or something else comes along?
Do you or your company use Slack? Do you have a Slack community you’ve created or you’re a part of you would love to share. Let me know below.