You’ll soon be able to Slack anyone with a Slack account

Slack is launching new business collaboration features as it looks to drive a wedge further into the ‘next normal’ of working life.
7 October 2020
  • Collaboration tools have enjoyed a surge in users this year, now they’re looking to evolve and diversify
  • Slack is exploring how messaging tool can be used for business-to-business project collaboration 

Like most popular collaboration tools, Slack has seen a boom in users this year. And we all know why that is, don’t we? Hint: It’s ‘due to the demands of remote working’. 

The messaging tool reached a peak of 12.5 million concurrent users in March this year, with organizations using Slack as a communal social space for internal messaging, scheduling meetings, sharing proposals, and for just making up for a general lack of office chat. Earlier this year, CEO Stewart Butterfield said typical users now comprise anything from national law firms to “three-person dental practices in the North of England.”

Again, like most other popular collaboration tools, Slack is leveraging the current wave to launch new features in what it hopes will drive its wedge further into the ‘next normal’ of working life. In June this year, it launched Slack Connect, which enabled businesses to communicate externally for the first time in a single Slack channel. The company hoped this would eventually replace email chains for project collaboration with other partners. 

Now, off the back of its virtual Frontiers conference this week, it’s adding more new features, including the ability to send a direct message to anyone in the Slack ecosystem by sending an invite.  

The distinct focus of this function is on business and collaboration, Slack’s VP of product Ilan Frank, told TechCrunch, and the company needs to work out how to do it securely, to avoid it being misused for spam, or otherwise. 

“You can now direct message anyone in the Slack ecosystem. That means that anyone that has a Slack license can connect to one another,” Frank said. 

“We’re going to be focused on, before we make this widely available, a lot of different information privacy and security [components] to make sure that we account for things like spam and phishing attacks and all that. This should not be a LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger where anyone can connect with you. This is [going to focus on] business for business work.”

One of the ways it will do this is by adding Verified Organizations, which will ensure users are connecting with someone from a known and trusted organization before they accept an invitation. 

Managed Connections, meanwhile, is another feature which will hand Slack admins control and oversight over which organizations and individuals can connect with people inside their organizations to ensure those features are used responsibly. Admins can set policies and configurations based around their specific relationships with outside organizations. 

While these tools have been announced this week, they won’t be released until later in 2020 or early next year. Slack is also experimenting with enabling users to embed video and audio in channels.