Ten years ago, more than half of email’s receive were from another person. Today on average only about 8-10% of email is from a person and the rest are comprised of email marketing, receipts, social media updates and other email white noise. To combat the inefficiencies this created for staff communications, Stewart Butterfield, founder of the game Glitch replaced email with a chat app that plugged into his team’s favorite services like DropBox, GitHub and Twitter. The app worked so well that after the demise of the game, the company decided to retool their company and launched the release of the application to the outside world.
Slack is an online, social-messaging platform for work groups or teams. Each team has a social space or dashboard for conversations. Within the dashboard teams create Channels, designated by hashes, that effectively become streams or threads to differentiate conversations based on their themes. Notifications can be customized to send users alerts for information posted that is relevant or important to them based on keywords, when you have a new Direct Message, or even if your name is mentioned. These notifications can also be pushed to a mobile device. Other features and services can be easily integrated including Google Hangouts, Trello, Zendesk and JIRA.
Users or small groups of 9 or fewer people can have private conversations using the Direct Message feature. Larger groups can communicate via private Channels. If there are new or unread messages in a Channel, if your name is mentioned or you receive a Channel related Direct Message, the Channel title appears in bold and a number appears along side of it indicating the number of mentions or messages you’ve received.
There are a number of plan options beginning with the free Slack Lite which offers searching on 10,000 messages, no limits on the number of users who can join your teams, and the integration of five supported tools. A Standard Slack account costs $8.00 per user per month (or $6.67, if paid annually) and offers the ability to search an unlimited number of messages and have unlimited integrations plus a few other perks, such as usage statistics. Plus Plans provide compliance exports of message history, support fo external message and archival solutions and 24/7 support for $12.50 per month.