Slack and the future of ‘work’ networks

With the ongoing success of the workplace network Slack and Microsoft pushing into the same market with their Teams offering, it is worth reflecting on this current development of what basically are stripped-down business social networks.

At the time of writing this post, there are 5.8 million people using Slack every week, resulting in estimated revenues of $100 million. That is not too bad for a startup that launched less than four years ago. It is further reported that 77% of Fortune 100 companies use Slack.

Why is Slack so successful? And maybe more importantly, is Slack just the beginning of a huge industry in the making?

Satya van Heummen names a couple of reasons for the success of Slack, some of them psychological nature. According to him, the usage of Slack creates Social Pressure that ultimately forces you to use it. Let’s illustrate this using a graph:

Bildschirmfoto 2017-05-03 um 21.05.00

This perpetual process of increasing importance, ultimately, leads to a state of every employee using the service. While this is not the only reason for Slack’s success and points like business model or competitors play a huge role as well, the psychological process shows the importance of a common playground” in a business context.

Slack basically opening up a very unique and new industry segment didn’t go unnoticed. Facebook and Microsoft started to jump on the bandwagon with their respective solutions (Workplace & Teams), both companies with massive funds behind it and serious ambitions to threaten Slack’s current position.

 

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Facebook Workspace (Source)

 

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Microsoft Teams (Source)

While Microsoft has a long history of serving business-focused solutions, Facebook is treading new water with Facebook Workspace and their efforts mark first steps into unexplored territories of B2B.

So where is this going? 

It is certainly hard to give future predictions for technology-based industries, especially if they are so young, but a few things can be said:

  1. There is money to be earned with B2B

Admittedly, the B2B market is by no means as large as a general B2C market, like Facebook targets with their Social Network, but B2B customers are willing to spend resources on IT solutions. Services that facilitate team communication and ultimately performance are therefore high on managers agendas.

2. Entirely virtual companies

There is an increasing number of companies that exist mostly in virtual terms. Think of crowdsourced projects or programmers dispersed around the globe. These companies/projects don’t necessarily have physical offices to facilitate communication. Instead, services that enable efficient collaboration rise in value. Here’s where Slack, Facebook Workspace and Microsoft Teams come in.

3. Growth Opportunities 

Microsoft is actively promoting their offering to schools, thus allowing teachers and students to exchange ideas, learning materials and also grades. This shows that the concept team-based collaboration is not limited to workplaces. I can easily think of other use cases: local sports clubscharities or universities.

Do you think the industry of work-focused collaboration will keep on growing? Where do you see limits and opportunities?

Post your comments below!

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Slack and the future of ‘work’ networks

  1. I do feel that Slack’s success is due to its design-focused strategy that makes it feel, look and sound different than its boring enterprise competitors. The power of Slack is that if you don’t follow it all the time, then you’ve lost the conversation and within companies it is very important to inform yourself about what’s going on, not only for your job but also for your position within the company and your future ambitions. Therefore if competitive apps are able to keep up or overthrow Slack’s design-focused product, I do feel that there is a huge opportunity for start-ups to be successful in this industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, the fact that Slack as a startup basically captured the market shows how unaware the “big players” were of this industry. While I do think that there are a lot of opportunities in the business communication market, the market for chat-like collaboration aka Slack, Workspace, Teams seems to be settled for now. Will be interesting to see if Facebook, Microsoft or even Google can capture market share from Slack. Especially since they have way more resources to do so.

      Like

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