How Slack Is Replacing Internal Email For Teams

  • Aug 30, 2016

Talk to anybody who regularly uses Slack and you’ll hear rave reviews. You might hear how it provides a clear, organized system of communication, you might hear how it’s a game-changer for remote workers, or you might hear how Slack has a fun factor that makes the user experience truly enjoyable. But if you talk to anybody about their work email, you’ll hear quite the opposite—horror stories of emails that slip between the cracks never to be found again, or the dreaded feeling of coming back from vacation to what seems like 534,698 unread messages clamoring for a response.

For years now, the need for an optimized tool to replace internal team email has been an oft-discussed topic in the technology space and beyond, and there are several reasons why. For starters, communication tools have significantly diversified over the last 15-20 years and in doing so have become more compartmentalized. Let’s say your internal team communicates via email. Great, but what about the other tools you use to communicate? There’s Intercom for customer support, Asana to manage projects, GitHub for source control, FreshBooks for time tracking and invoicing, and social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for external communication.

Email used to be the great consolidator—it brought together these different communication sources and united them all under one roof, albeit not particularly well. But recently, less and less of this communication comes from actual people. For every email you get from a human being, you probably get 10 more from machines, whether they’re automated marketing emails, monthly statements, notification bots, new Twitter followers, so on and so forth. It’s because of these reasons that the need for a post-email tool is greater than ever for internal teams.

That’s the exact problem that Slack solves—the ability to bring fragmented sources together and cut through the clutter to pick and choose what communication is essential to your daily work life and access it in one centralized location.

Additionally, people want to work together in real time. Perhaps it’s because assembly line thinking has been engrained in how we get things done and it’s in our nature to do your part and then pass it down the line to the next step, even if that means crossing barriers and using different tools. But with an extensive set of third party integrations that plug into your favorite services you already use, you can still use your existing tools to collaborate with teammates without ever leaving Slack.

And then there are Slackbots—automated bots that do everything from enhance productivity to handle expenses to book meetings. And since the line between work and outside life continues to blur, there’s also a ton of other Slackbots that are more lighthearted and just plain fun. Want a Slack channel that provides Kanye tweets on demand? There’s a Slackbot for that. Want a fun-loving cat named Poncho to tell you what the weather is like anywhere on Earth? Believe it or not, there’s a Slackbot for that too. It’s through bots like these that Slack has transcended its communication tool status to be something much, much more. Yes, Slack had already gained a devout following strictly on its merit of bringing teams together to get more done, but by combining both work and life communication so seamlessly, it has become a tool reflective of the blurred world in which we live.

Since its public release in early 2014, Slack’s meteoric adoption might be the greatest signal that email will soon become a thing of the past. In just two and half years, Slack has grown to boast over 2.7 million daily active users and is now valued at $3.8 billion. With its status as Silicon Valley darling, it’s no surprise that Slack counts AirBNB, Salesforce, BuzzFeed, and Yelp as customers. But what’s truly amazing is that it also has fans and users in both the Fortune 500 (Comcast, Sony, Dow Jones) as well as government industries (The U.S. State Department, NASA), and typically these types of organizations are extremely skeptical in changing protocol unless they wholeheartedly believe what’s come next is better than what’s come before. All of this is evidence of Slack’s great success, and if the masses are wondering what tool could ever replace email for internal communication, Slack is their best bet.