Picking up Slack to connect the dots


How many productivity tools do you use on a daily basis? If you are like most professionals, you are probably somewhere in the double-digits.

Beyond the obvious tools like a web browser, your email client and the office productivity suite of your choice, you might also be using note taking apps, capturing screen shots or instant messaging with your co-workers. Each of these tools serves a purpose, while often operating wholly independent of each other.

As you flow through the river of information on your website, islands start to form around each application you’re using. Simply put, there is very little connection between the applications that we use and the rest of our organization.

I recently came across a startup called Slack that aims to change all of that. First profiled in Wired Magazine, Slack is a startup that aims to connect the apps that we use on a daily basis by connecting them in a single interface that’s accessible to teams working together within an organization. While this sounds very ambitious, as you can see in the Wired profile, they are already well on their way to making this a reality.

In order to understand whether Slack was the real deal, I decided to implement it for keeping track of the tasks I need to create while building Knowledge Land. I figured that this would be the simplest way to test the tool, because of the startup nature of the website and the fact that there is only a handful of team members involved. If Slack was as easy to use – and collaborate with team members – as promised, it would be an ideal use case for the tool.

Setup was a breeze, the interface was intuitive and within 30 minutes I was starting to become more organized with my efforts. Instead of keeping ideas and notes spread across multiple email folders, Dropbox files and Evernote lists, I was able to take all of the ideas and organize them within Trello, a lightweight project management tool.

When I started to connect everything, I began to understand the beauty and appeal of Slack; it was the connective tissue between all of the systems I have been using to get my business off the ground. It literally spoke to the cloud apps I was already using and kept a history of all of the changes that were taking place along the way for any future team member to review or revisit in the future.

It also allows you to communicate directly with team members within the app so that you can ask questions and assign tasks within Slack. The collective history of the entire conversation, all changes and future needs are stored within the app for future reference.

Think about how much email can be eliminated when using a tool that shares collective knowledge across an entire organization? For someone just getting started at building their next company, I couldn’t be more excited to have stumbled upon Slack at the perfect time.

Understanding that this is a lot of praise for a tool, I also wanted to mention some of the current drawbacks with Slack, as I see them. First of all, while they do currently integrate with over 60 applications, they do not integrate with all of my preferred productivity tools. I would love to see them integrate with Evernote in the future. While they integrate with one piece of email marketing software I use (Mailchimp), it would be great to see more tools represented there as well. Lastly, I would love to see them integrate with corporate email servers like Google Apps email for my domain.

The good news is that the tool continues to grow and innovate, so it’s only a matter of time before we can go further with Slack. Give it a try – hopefully you’ll be impressed like I was!

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Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.

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