Slack, the hot workplace chat app, launches new ways to integrate with email ahead of its much-anticipated IPO
- On Wednesday, Slack announced new features that integrate the messaging app with users' email and calendars.
- In addition, it expanded its search features, added a feature for people to automate common tasks, and beefed up its products for business customers.
- The email integrations are interesting: Slack started with a mission to cut down on office email, but email has proven itself resilient.
- Slack has said that it plans to go public this year.
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As it prepares for a highly-anticipated IPO, Slack rolled out several new features on Wednesday designed to broaden the reach of its popular workplace chat tool.
The new update will allow Slack customers to connect with other users, even if they don't use the app itself. Users can send a Slack message straight to someone's email. The recipient can then join the Slack conversation, or reply via email.The ability to send Slack messages to email is available now, and the ability to reply via email to Slack will roll out down the line.
"For the first time, we're bringing together people who are in a real time collaboration hub and good old-fashioned email without forcing one out of their communication mode," Andy Pflaum, director of product management at Slack, told Business Insider. "Customers have told us they love what's going on in Slack, but there will still be some people who are still in email," he continued.
Slack also added integrations to Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar so that users can schedule meetings through the app and automatically flag to coworkers when they're unavailable to chat.
Later this year, that feature will be expanded to include smart event suggestions, such that Slack will prompt users to create a calendar event if it detects that they're talking about an upcoming conference or meeting.
"With just a couple of clicks, they can find a time they're available," Pflaum said. "It's the first time we'll be allowing creation of meetings from inside of Slack. We're doing it in an intelligent way of recognizing when there's an event."In addition, users will be able to automate common tasks, like the process for onboarding new employees.
Slack also says that it'll revamp its search function to make it easier to find what you're looking for across multiple messages and files. It's also bringing new features that will allow business users to invite outside people into their Slack chat rooms, so that external customers and partners can communicate more easily with your team.
"Across the board, we're connecting out to the services we know and hear from our customers," Pflaum said. "We're helping bring that information into Slack. Unlike some other providers out there who focus on their stack and integrations within their stack, we're just looking to connect."
Pflaum is almost certainly referring to Microsoft Teams - Microsoft's own competitor to Slack, which comes bundled with some versions of the Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite, and which carries deep integrations with Microsoft products like Outlook, Word, and Sharepoint.
Meanwhile, as a historical note, the news is especially interesting given that Slack started with the mission to cut down on office email. However, while it may have accomplished that goal for at least some customers, email has proven itself extremely resilient.
By integrating more tightly with email, Slack might make itself even more integral to the way work gets done in any office. It's also worth noting that late last year, Slack bought Astro, an email app, with the stated mission of bringing their two worlds closer together.