In October last year, as Slack prepared for its virtual Frontiers conference, the company began to think of different ways people could communicate on the platform. Although it had built its name on being able to integrate many services in a single place to alleviate the dreaded task-switching phenomenon, it has largely been text-based until now.
More recently, Slack has begun developing a few new features that can bring different ways of interacting with the platform. CEO Stewart Butterfield discussed them on Thursday with former TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine, now a SignalFire investor, in a clubhouse interview.
The lecture was about the work of the future, and Slack believes that these new ways of communicating can help employees better connect online when we switch to a hybrid world of work ̵
First, Slack aims to add a way to communicate on video. But instead of trying to compete with Zoom or Microsoft Teams, Slack envisions an experience that is more like Instagram Stories.
Keep in mind that the CEO shares an important announcement with the company, or what kind of information may have gone out in a company-wide email. Instead, you can skip the inbox and deliver the message directly via video. It takes a side from the consumer approach to social and tries to move it into the business.
In a blog post from the company earlier this week, Slack chief product officer Tamar Yehoshua was clear that this was going to be an asynchronous approach, rather than an experience of a meeting.
“To help with this, we try ways to move meetings towards an asynchronous video experience that feels native to Slack. It allows us to express nuances and enthusiasm without a meeting, “she wrote.
While in it, Slack decided to create a way to just chat with his voice. As Butterfield told Constine in her clubhouse interview, this is actually the clubhouse (or Twitter Spaces) being built for Slack.
Yes, I’re always believed in ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ thing, so we’re just building Slack’s clubhouse, really. As the idea that you can drop by, the conversation happens whether you are there or not, you can go in and go whenever you want, as opposed to a call that starts and stops, is a fantastic model to encourage that spontaneity and the serendipity and conversations that only need to be three minutes, but the only option for you to schedule them is 30 minutes. So watch out for the Clubhouse built into Slack.
Again, it takes a consumer social idea and uses it for a business setting with the idea of finding other ways to stay slack when you can use other tools to achieve the same, whether it is Zoom meetings, email or phone din.
Butterfield also suggested that another feature – asynchronous sound, so you can leave the equivalent of an answering machine – may come some time in the future. A spokesman for Slack confirmed that it was in the process, but was not ready to share details yet.
It’s impossible to look at these features without thinking about them in the context of the $ 27 billion Salesforce acquisition of Slack at the end of last year. When you put them all together, you have this set of tools that allow you to communicate in the way that makes the most sense to you.
When you combine the Slack Connect DM, a new feature for communicating outside the organization that was released this week, into some controversy, as people wanted assurances that they could control spam and harassment, that concept takes it a step further – outside the organization itself.
As part of a larger entity such as Salesforce, these tools can be useful across sales, service and even marketing as a way to communicate in a variety of ways inside and outside the organization. And they’ll greatly expand the value of Slack when it becomes part of Salesforce sometime later this year.
While it started talking about the new audio and video features last fall, the company has been piloting them since the beginning of this year. So far, Slack does not say when the new features will be generally available.