Not Slacking off in the office

The communication platform called Slack is winning because it is disrupting how office communication occurs.


Slack addresses a business need

Slack addresses the pain of reading and searching through emails for a specific project or topic.  Slack allows teams to create different channels of discussion such as “stand up”, “engineering”, “bugs”, etc.   Teams can keep their conversations separate so that when they need to go back and visit the conversation they can go straight to the appropriate topic. This better mimics how office discussions occur in real life because users can have multiple lines of conversation around different topics.  Users can also easily upload documents, private message, and search chat history.  While the solution seems simple, Slack has coupled it with a fluid and intuitive user experience.  The onboarding experience is intuitive, the desktop site has a simple layout, and the mobile site makes it easy for users to stay logged in and plugged in.  Slack allows users to try the product for free, which helps lowers the barrier for teams wanting to give it a try.


Slackbot save employees time

Slack also help teams save time on mundane tasks.  Slackbot is a chatbot that can respond to rules that the team creates.  One of the biggest benefits is that slackbot can help a manager run a standup meeting by asking everyone simultaneously what everyone is working on, and then combining it all into one conversation.  Thus instead of the normal 30 minute standup meeting people are used to, teams can work remotely and still know what everyone is working on.  Slackbot can also help with any other rules that teams want to enforce (e.g. correcting someone when they use a word/phrase the team has agreed to move away from).  In an increasingly competitive environment, companies and teams value any tool that makes their working lives easier – and Slack is winning that


Slack built a network of partnerships

A key component of Slack’s competitive advantage is that it integrates with other platforms to create an ecosystem of services.  Slack has almost 80 integration partners that help teams work more efficiently.  Slack is beating out all other communication platforms by funneling data external data into its own ecosystem.  For example, if a team runs a survey or wants to know what customers are saying, Slacks partnerships allow data/summaries to be funneled into specific channels.  This gives more employees a place to go find the information they want, instead of having to find where the data is or requesting it from a colleague.


Slack’s exponential growth

Once teams start using Slack, it becomes an engrained habit. Companies both large and small are signing up for Slack, which is why Slack’s daily active users (DAU) has grown exponentially, crossing over 1 million in June 2015.  Most applications/websites experience high churn rates and have a difficult time growing DAUs.  One key reason why Slack is winning is because it engages users to return to the application daily.  Slack’s users are not only returning but they are also helping the company reach more customers by spreading the word about the superiority of its product.


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Student comments on Not Slacking off in the office

  1. I am in agreement that Slack is a useful tool but the common perception is it is mostly people in the Tech space that uses it and it hasn’t manage to achieve as much widespread penetration in other sectors. I wonder if they are doing anything to actively counter that perception so as to be able to continue with their exponential growth.

  2. You make some great points that Slack has done a great job with its freemium business model and that growth has been exceptional (and incredibly viral). I’d also add that Slack benefits from network effects, as the platform becomes more valuable as more users join. This leads to a sticky customer base and high switching costs. Slack has added to this stickiness by allowing developers to build on its platform.

    With regards to Angela’s comment, I agree that it seems like most of Slack’s early customers are tech companies. However, I think that’s more a testament to its early, viral, word-of-mouth growth that they achieved with practically no marketing, and think the pace of their adoption actually benefited from seeming “exclusive” when they launched. That being said, since Slack has delivered better productivity software applicable across industries, they have a large addressable market and should be able to increase market share.

  3. Do you think that Slack will ever be a full replacement for email?

    I think Slack works great for dedicated teams of people who work closely with each other on an ongoing or long-term basis, so project/development teams are an obviously good use case. But I wonder how Slack would work in functions where people work far less closely with the same individuals repeatedly but have to reach across multiple parts of an organization to reach out to different people on a daily or weekly basis? In these types of cases, i wonder how Slack competes with a simple email request, because there is no new on-boarding process to go through nor a strong reason to compartmentalize a single request into a category of conversation.

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