Slack’s new ‘Connect’ looks to better connect IMs, apps across companies

Slack has taken another step in its aim to replace email with the launch of Connect, a communication environment that enables messaging collaboration between multiple organizations.

Advancing the concept of the shared channels feature  introduced three years ago and now in use by 41,000 companies, Slack Connect lets users send messages to 20 external organizations, both in channels and as direct messages.

In addition to sending instant messages, Connect could also help bridge digital business processes across a company with applications.

Connect, available now for all paid customers, was piloted internally by Slack, allowing its financial staff to communicate with banks and lawyers as it raised an $800 million convertible bond. It has also been tested by more than a million Slack users, the company said.

“This is a major step for Slack, which has seen huge success from its shared channels capabilities over the last couple of years, and it continues to be a very important differentiator for Slack against Microsoft Teams,” said Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight’s digital workplace practice.

Rearchitecting Slack’s AWS back end

The launch of Connect is the culmination of four years’ work rearchitecting the back end of Slack’s platform, which runs on AWS’ cloud – shifting its tenancy model from an individual customer per tenant to a single channel per tenant. This essentially allows for real-time messaging between a large number of organizations within a single channel, with each party retaining control over data, enabling companies to interact more easily with their suppliers, agencies or clients, for instance.

Slack will also let users send direct messages to users whether they are part of a shared channel or not. (That feature is still in development.)

“With Slack Connect, we’re going to enable it so that you can actually direct message to anyone in the world,” said Ilan Frank, Slack vice president for enterprise product. “You can allow your employees to work externally a lot more freely in Slack, very similar to the way that they work in email.”

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