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Competition is heating up in the email killing space, with office communication platforms gaining serious attention from major technology companies. In the past few months, Microsoft has rolled out Microsoft Teams, a "chat-based workspace" allowing online collaboration, and Facebook unveiled Workplace, or Facebook for your office. Both products take aim at Slack, the collaborative communication startup that allows professionals to chat, send messages, and share files. Now Slack is fighting back, announcing a new partnership with Google and more seamless integration with Google's online tools.
So, will any of this impact how you do business? Probably, in time.
Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace -- you probably won't find these in many law firms just yet. But the idea of work that they're pushing is starting to spread, and it could work its way into your daily life sooner or later.
The idea is seamless communication, collaboration, and document sharing without having to rely on shared cloud drives or constant emails. Slack's main innovation was to replace emails with chat -- and to sprinkle that chat with Millennial-friendly emojis and gifs. Allow that chat to work smoothly with a ton of different apps and websites, and suddenly you need only a single program to get things done, rather than a dozen.
Slack has since grown to integrate more than 150 different apps, hoping to one day replace your whole office suite (word processors, file management, etc) with one cloud-based platform. One survey by the company claimed that Slack made teams 40 percent more productive.
That vision of integrated office collaboration has spread. Facebook is now presenting itself as a corporate platform with Workplace, which is essentially a closed-universe Facebook with a different color scheme. And Microsoft has Microsoft Teams, which TechCrunch describes as "basically a Microsoft Slack clone," but with "the added advantage of being able to tie into Microsoft's suite of services, including Skype and Office 365."
Slack's partnership with Google will allow it to counter Microsoft by allowing Slack to integrate Google's "Team Drives," the company's new initiative to adopt its cloud-based storage to the needs of larger businesses. That could mean easier document sharing, along with tighter controls over document privileges -- something necessary for larger organizations, or professionals who work with confidential information.
We know how you'd love to get rid of email forever, but products like Slack and Workplace probably aren't on the verge of taking over the legal industry. Those products are aimed at a more general business audience and we imagine most firms preferring practice management products designed with lawyers in mind. (Let us know when Slack has an app for tracking billable hours, please.)
But, the email-free, social media-like workplace that Slack promotes isn't going away soon. Lawyers could see some of its features (chat, seamless sharing, integrated communications -- maybe even emojis) spread to their firms sooner or later. That's probably a good thing.
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