The Rise and Rise of Office Collaboration Tools

What is the typical workflow in any corporate office environment? In most companies, it is heavily run by the ubiquitous and familiar service that we all know about. Email. Want to share some files – email, update a weekly report – email, escalate an issue – email, drop a note quickly – email, remind someone – email, etc. But is it the best possible tool for collaboration

Email remains Swiss Army Knife for online communication, but not the most effective tool for collaboration

An example below of a weekly meeting working

Email Workflow: Employee A receives a weekly report from a vendor or analytics service. He forwards it to his manager who looks at it the next day. He asks Employee B for additional metrics and information for the same. Employee B takes a day to compile and resend it to the manager. The manager realizes there is a problem and forwards it to Employee A to take action. Employee A sends it back to the vendor for correction. The vendor updates his service (A date issue) to resend the correct report.
Time Taken: 4 days

Slack Workflow: Slack App from vendor automatically shares an excel report on a shared channel with Employee A, Employee B, and manager. Employee B notices the date discrepancy and replies on the same channel marking in red the problem. The vendor acknowledges and shares updated.
Time Taken: 4 hours

The shortcomings in email for collaboration are many – lack of history, lack of rich integrations, lack of shared platform, lack of file management, lack of quick feedback and the list goes on. Another issue which then arises is the large number of people whose inbox keeps flooding because they are kept in a large number of email communications. Don’t get me wrong, email is great as a tool, but office communication now requires a much faster, quicker and more collaborative tool. It has become the leading team collaboration tool in the past few years with 12+ million daily active users

Take a look at the excellent published demo here of what slack does

What are some great uses of Slack (or Microsoft Teams) that excites people ?

  1. Quick Video Call or Screen Share – Do you require a different tool other than email for a quick video call or screen sharing when it can be done right from one app
  2. Knowledge Management – Every team and company struggles with maintaining good documentation of processes, workflows, error management or just plain information about whom to contact when something fails. With the right app, you can ensure that all communication (including files) get saved for future employees to peruse
  3. Slack Bots – Utilize Slack Bots to inform Software Developers for new errors or server errors in their deployed software. Similarly, notify sales on new leads and proposal updates, notify marketers every time your brand gets mentioned on social media, remind finance in case weekly report not being sent out, notify HR about a new resume that got uploaded. There are 1500+ apps which is growing exponentially for every use case you can think of
  4. Scheduling, Calendar and Time Management – Set automated reminders to yourself, teammates, get informed about meetings every morning, automate reminders about your leave plan, you got everything under 1 roof. You can even add a message to your to-do list right from the app
  5. Shared Channels – What excited me the most was shared channels. Rather than keeping a hundred people in cc every time two companies need to work together, you can just use a shared channel to discuss, get clarifications, get approvals, all in one easy to use app
  6. Integrations – Do you use Google Drive, Asana, Google Suite, Slack has hundreds of integrations you can use and get started quickly.
  7. There are apps available which allow you do quick pollsremind you on birthdayscoordinate team lunchessubscribe to RSS updatesdirectly communicate with website visitors, it’s worthwhile to have a look at the Slack App Directory to see what people come up with
Slack Screenshot

As employees gradually move towards more remote roles, tools like Slack become critical for collaboration. According to research firm IDC, global “team collaborative applications” market is currently worth $3.5B and growing by an astonishing 75% every year. Consulting firm McKinsey said workplace communications technologies can increase employee productivity by up to 25%. It can get different parts of a company to work together, break hierarchies, spark chance interactions & innovations and get things done faster.

But whatever the critics say about the higher number of distractions due to slack, you cannot deny the wide variety of integrations Slack has managed to launch. All dominant video tools – Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Webex are available, same for project management – Trello, Asana, Jira, Confluence, same for developer tools – Github, Jira, GitLab, Jenkins, CircleCI, Sentry, Datadog, etc. The shift towards dominance of Slack as the central collaboration platform for every type of office communication is happening, which is why it’s now valued at close to $13 Billion. Although it won’t be possible to replace email, but it will be possible to replace office communication through Slack

Digging in the financial metrics, Slack is worth about $25 for every dollar of revenue it brought in over the last four quarters. Other SaaS companies are worth around $10 for the same revenue dollar. Both metrics are rich valuations; some SaaS companies trade at far lower metrics as does nearly every other market segment. Its only rival – Microsoft Teams which already has a larger base (165M) than Slack as it is bundled with Office 365 offering a significant amount of growth. Slack also says many of its users are already Microsoft 365 customers but prefer to pay for its superior service instead of Teams

I would love to hear about what you think about Slack or Microsoft Teams

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