The big picture: Slack came out in 2013 with a mission to improve online collaboration and reduce workspace clutter. In that time, the business tool has become somewhat of a household name for companies big and small. It's also managed to disrupt office culture by significantly reducing the need for emails, allowing users to form teams and collaborate via channels. The company's latest Slack Connect feature looks to double down on this approach by letting up to 20 companies work seamlessly on a single channel, while also touting improved security benefits over email.
Email remains one of the internet's oldest and most popular forms of communication, though it has been replaced by many companies in favor of specialized business tools like Slack. The collaboration platform works especially well within organizations thanks to its comprehensive app directory and a rich feature set.
One of these features, available to paid users (of course), are shared channels designed to let two companies who interact frequently to form a central point for communication. The idea was hailed by Slack as "the most important thing" since the tool's inception, meant to reshape how employees work not only across teams but also across organizations.
The company is now expanding upon that feature with Slack Connect, which will enable collaboration for up to 20 businesses on a single channel. Speaking to The Verge, Slack's chief product officer, Tamar Yehoshua said the company wanted to build a model that addresses the limitations of email. "I believe a lot of the communication that’s happening over email will move to Slack," she said, while acknowledging that email would always be around for certain use cases.
Slack's chief security officer, Larkin Ryder, also commented on the limitations of email, calling it "an open front door to security threats to an organization." She also noted that business email scams led to losses of $12 billion and that 90 percent of data breaches were caused by phishing.
Users of Slack Connect, however, won't be dealing with these challenges and can focus on getting things done. IT admins will get granular controls for managing what's shared with whom and the tool's upcoming UI improvements will easily let users see shared items and channel participants.
Slack Connect appears to be one of the first fruits of Slack's recent partnership with Amazon, allowing the business tool to offer more powerful capabilities with the backing of the world's top cloud service provider.
Although Slack Connect is unlikely to threaten email's existence, the latter could potentially see a further and likely significant drop in usage once businesses adopt this feature for collaboration or end up using similarly inspired offerings on rival platforms.