SLACK in the intelligent workplace
A couple of years ago, if you called someone a slacker, you might have been treated to a knuckle sandwich. Times have changed, and now slack doesn’t mean a floppy rope or a workshy colleague; now ‘Slack’ has become the dominant collaboration platform for many organisations, such as Ticketmaster, Samsung, and ebay.
Slack started life as an internal tool for an online game and, if you’re interested in such things, stands for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge” – not an insignificant claim. While it may not cover all the world’s knowledge, it does a great job of bringing staff together in real-time conversations and works brilliantly in getting answers to those quick questions that would have previously ended up in an email, sent to multiple recipients with the usual cascade of replies – most of which all utterly irrelevant to half the distribution. The conversations can be partitioned to keep related information together and users subscribe to the channels of interest, so you’re not inundated with noise that doesn’t have any interest.
The key is that you can quickly search back across those conversations to retrieve the golden nugget of information quickly and easily. The platform is cloud based, so it works seamlessly across multiple devices – desktop and mobile – so it’s perfect for keeping in touch and up-to-date in the office or out in the field.
Ultamation have been using Slack for the past two years now and - as we have staff distributed across two offices in the North West of England and engineers out on-site wherever a project is being delivered, whether that’s on an office, home or out at sea – we have found the platform to be invaluable in keeping everyone abreast of progress of projects.
Project managers get instant updates on any developments, both the good news stories and the nasty surprises; engineers can get clarification on questions instantly from the design team back in the office, and it’s great for the less formal broadcasts, such as the date for the next company barbecue. There are also private channels for management discussion and direct message channels for one-to-one conversations – which I now use throughout the day in preference to what was previously a daily phone call catch-up: It’s a great way to focus what you want to say, get it said, and receive a concise response.
Slack has made such an impact on our daily working routine that we decided to create a Slack integration module for Crestron systems. We leveraged Slack’s fully supported integration API so now a Crestron processor can display slack channel conversations for digital signage, post messages to inform other users of interesting updates – we’ve event added a message parser to our office system so we can talk to the system to trigger events. See a video of it in action here. If you want to learn more about Slack or our integration module, please visit: slack.com &