That Dog CAN Hunt
In 2011 and 2012 social media grew up and became ubiquitous in our lives. The Arab Spring was facilitated by Facebook and Twitter. If social media tools could enable disenfranchised citizens in Tunisia and Egypt to self-organize and manage to topple entrenched dictators, imagine what this technology could enable your employees to accomplish! The benefits of social media in an Enterprise has the potential to increase efficiency, flatten communication lines, and enable project teams to be much more responsive. Enterprise Social Collaboration tools could be the missing link to make companies agile.
Corporate America was excited about the possibilities. The Harvard Business Review estimated that efficiency would improve by 20-25%. Microsoft bought Yammer and Skype. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff was on CNBC touting the “Social Enterprise” - http://youtu.be/odUuE0IYwi8 .
Fast forward to 2015, and these Enterprise Social Collaboration tools have not lived up to their potential of dramatically improving team efficiency and resolving “email hell”. Wired.com has a great breakdown for why the tools have not been adopted. From my personal experience, for the past 18 months I have been desperately trying to use Chatter as a collaboration tool for our internal business-related communications to stem the tidal wave of emails and simplify searching for project and client information. However, Chatter has not caught on at our company, which is disappointing because we love Salesforce.com. If you want to find out more about our company, click HERE .
We are still using email for internal communications, which adds to the existing effort required to manage client interactions and system updates from our other productivity tools. Responding to client communications in a timely manner to be responsive, while supporting internal projects, while monitoring alerts from our project management system, time tracking system, and other system alerts. Moreover, our email is still our primary knowledge base repository.
As I was fighting to get our team to adopt Chatter, I kept asking myself, “why don’t people get it?”. Chatter is essentially Facebook for work. And, somehow, millions of people have figured out Facebook and don’t find it hard to use. Why not Chatter? What gives…? Well, a lot. Professionals have been using email for over 30 years. Many of them feel they have “figured out” how to manage email effectively. The problem is that it’s an individual context. Maybe you’ve “figured out” how to manage email, but does your approach work for other people who have different needs? How about the project team that you are working on?
To those who ask, why do we need to use an Enterprise collaboration tool?
- Push & pull communication between team members
- Reduce the need to manage and organize your email inbox
- Ease the context switching between competing stovepipes of information
- Data is stored as “structured data”, meaning that it’s easier to search
- Data is saved in a central repository, not in your own personal inbox
As I entered a period of email despair and frustration, I kept hearing about Slack. But I held off on Slack because Chatter is baked into Salesforce.com, is free, and as a Salesforce.com consultant I have an affinity for Salesforce.com products. I finally realized Chatter is not going to be adopted for various reasons, but that does not eliminate the need to work more efficiently with our internal teams.
Reasons why Chatter did not get adopted by our team:
- The desktop app did not support Search
- Mobile and desktop applications are much weaker than the web-based version
- The user interface is not organized well
Slack is growing rapidly, with most people raving about its ease of use and quick adoption at their organizations. So what exactly is Slack and why is it better than Chatter?
What is Slack?
- Group messaging tool with searchable memory
- Organizes team members into “public channels” and private chats
Why is Slack better than Chatter?
- Organizing topics is simple (Channels / hashtags)
- Search capabilities are embedded in the platform
- Pasting images into feeds is easy
- Accessing & using private groups is intuitive
- It works the same across all platforms
Organizing Topics (channels / hashtags)
Slack makes it very simple to jump into a dedicated discussion (called a “Channel”) without having to search for specific hashtag or a thread. This makes it very easy to look up project specific information or find functional specific (e.g., “Sales”) conversations. While Chatter supports hashtags, it’s not possible to quickly jump into a “room” of Sales conversations.
You can’t search in the Chatter desktop app. You can easily search for item in Slack.
Pasting images into Feed
This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Throughout the workday I capture screenshots a lot. A lot! When I take a screen shot of my screen, I want to copy & paste it directly into Chatter, but I can’t. I need to save the screenshot as a file (.png or .jpg) and then attach the image file to Chatter.
In Slack, I can take a screen shot and simply paste it into feed.
Accessing & using private groups / messages
Slack presents the private groups and private messages in an easier to use way than Chatter. In Slack, you can quickly see who is on-line versus off-line (name is italicized). While Chatter does support private groups and private messages, the notification mechanism is not reliable across all of the devices.
In short, Slack provides the platform that simplifies how your team interacts. Slack provides a tool that is well organized and extremely easy to use, which will enable adoption by users, regardless of their technical ability or aversion. As they are using Slack, it will become a central repository of company information that is easily accessible from multiple devices. In turn, that will make teams become much more efficient communicating and enable teams to become agile and respond to changing business need
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