Recently, business communication platform Slack introduced Slack Connect, a way for up to 20 businesses at a time to collaborate via a single Slack channel.
The new feature is intended to be a more secure, convenient alternative to email, with the ability to send messages and files. Slack Connect also allows integration with apps including Zoom and Google Drive.
The company has made some bold claims about the future of the platform. An announcement on the company’s website said Slack Connect will allow a business to “move all the conversations with your external partners, clients, vendors, and others into Slack, replacing email and taking business collaboration to the next level.”
So will B2B communication be moving to Slack Connect?
Probably not immediately. But if you’re a small- or medium-sized business, it’s definitely something you should consider pursuing.
Is Slack Connect Safer Than Email?
As Larkin Ryder, Slack’s Chief Security Officer, noted on the company’s website, “Email is an open front door to security threats to an organization—$12 billion in losses are caused by business email scams, and 90% of data breaches are from phishing.”
And while Slack obviously has an interest in overstating the dangers of email, they aren’t wrong. The $12 billion figure for email scams comes straight from the FBI, and only included data from 2013 to 2018. So there’s room for a safer means of communication between businesses.
Slack Connect, by comparison, has several safeguards, including verifying the identity of organizations that want to participate on the platform.
What About Convenience?
This will have to be watched closely in the coming months. Will companies quickly adopt it? For Slack Connect to become a default means of B2B communication, the platform will have to become more widely used.
Slack Connect is currently limited to paying customers, but may in the future become available as part of the unpaid tier. That significantly limits the possible user base. As of 2019, about 638,000 businesses used Slack, however, only 88,000 of those were on the paid tier — meaning the vast majority of Slack users aren’t yet able to use Slack Connect. While those numbers are likely to continue to increase as remote work becomes more viable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform needs to be more prominent to truly replace email.
Slack or Microsoft Teams?
Currently, Slack’s biggest rival is Microsoft Teams, which has a larger user base in terms of individuals, but as of last year was used by slightly fewer businesses (around 500,000).
Like Slack, Teams has increased in popularity during the pandemic. And Teams is also expanding its platform: On June 22 it was made available for personal use with friends and family outside of work.
If your business and those you wish to work with all use Slack, it does appear that Slack Connect is a viable alternative to email. And it will continue to evolve. Chief Product Officer Tamar Yehoshua announced that the 20-business limit will expand in the future. They’re also working on Google Calendar and Outlook integration, including a feature that will scan everyone’s calendars and find available meeting times.
Overall, Slack Connect does look like it will be a streamlined option for businesses that already use Slack on a paid tier, and interface with other businesses that do as well. And with an expanding list of features, it can be expected to become even more valuable.