Melissa Abramson
AUTHOR: Melissa Abramson
May 9, 2019 - 3 min read
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New Slack Features Show Users Want Greater Interoperability and Connection Among Disparate Teams

In its third year, the 2019 Slack Frontiers conference highlighted the rising influence of enterprise technology, particularly an increasing demand for interoperability and connecting outside users. As Slack continues to gain traction in the market, its new features are clearly a response to the emerging challenges IT is facing in intra (internal) and inter (external) company collaboration in the enterprise.

Let’s dive in and explore some of Slack’s biggest announcements in this area.

Slack Befriends Email

As Jonathan Dame described in TechTarget, Slack was once dubbed the ‘email killer.’ Now it’s joining forces with the de facto open standard in electronic communication. The new feature, which will roll out this year, allows Slack users to message coworkers via email to help “bridge” the gap between the two platforms.

Even with the rise in collaboration platforms, email is still the preferred enterprise communication tool and stands alone as the universal open platform for collaboration. Combining Slack’s 10 million daily active users with email inches Slack forward in terms of interoperability, but it doesn’t effectively address IT’s challenge of connecting teams and users across different platforms.

Shared Channels Come to Enterprise Grid

Slack first launched Shared Channels in 2017 to extend their messaging platform externally so many different companies using Slack could communicate. This summer, the company will be rolling out the feature in beta on Enterprise Grid, its platform for organizations that house between 500 and 500,000 employees.

Users will be able to expand business opportunities with this new feature, “using secure Slack channels to collaborate with other companies such as a vendor and a supplier, or a company and its ad agency,” says eWeek.

While the feature enables users in separate workplaces to communicate securely in Slack, it doesn’t address the need to connect different workspaces on different platforms, for example between Slack and Microsoft Teams.

“Alignment is Everything”

End users must be able to connect across platforms and companies for a truly collaborative workplace experience. Ensuring teams are aligned was a theme at the recent conference and the new features from Slack show the company is focused on broadening intra- and inter- company communication to achieve this. These new features also highlight end users’ interest and where the market is looking long term with their enterprise collaboration solutions.

While Slack would prefer to be the single source platform for collaboration, that will never happen with over 100 tools available to companies. Aggressive efforts by Microsoft and Cisco – and Facebook to a lesser extent – ensure that fragmentation in the marketplace will be the only constant. But, incorporating these new features are a step in the right direction for Slack to differentiate itself as a collaboration platform with more open and shared capabilities.