The Importance Of Slack Connect For Intercompany Collaboration
Where does the Slack experience stop? Who don’t you send Slack messages to?
Maybe your boss still prefers email—but they’re coming round to it. Perhaps it’s the accounts team who email suppliers all day long and it’s routine or habit. What about external contacts who you know for a fact are using Slack too?
Intercompany collaboration has long been overlooked in the unified communications process. But Slack has an overriding advantage: Slack Connect for intercompany collaboration.
Slack reports that 80% of the Fortune 100 companies use Slack Connect for intercompany collaboration. But there’s a ton of small and medium-sized businesses desperate to improve their external collaboration processes.
The awareness and implementation of using Slack between organizations must be shouted from the rooftops as businesses embrace asynchronous communication. As more businesses than ever report video fatigue and burnout, we must change our reliance on calls, meetings, and video.
Can you use Slack between companies?
When you need to message another company for help on a proposal, a support ticket, or whatever it might be, what’s your go-to tool?
If you said email but you have Slack open on your desktop (or phone), how did we end up here?
You don’t need to stop using Slack just because you need to message someone outside your organization.
Slack launched Slack Connect in 2020 as a new and improved version of shared channels.
How do I connect to another company in Slack?
First, you need to make sure your Slack plan is on one of the paid tiers. This will gain you automatic access to Slack Connect.
The new experience will be exactly like using shared channels. The interface and experience remain the same as using Slack for internal use.
The only difference? Up to 20 different organizations could be part of traditional shared channels. This number changed to 250 different organizations in 2022.
In order for a member of another company to receive your Slack Connect invite, the Slack admin on the other company’s workspace must approve your domain in their settings.
Slack Connect channels
To send an invite for another company to collaborate on Slack, you just need to hit Invite external people in the Connections menu.
Next, choose whether you want to collaborate in a channel or DM. Then add the email address of your collaborator and add the channel details. Make sure the tick box Share outside company is ticked.
Click next to send the invite and wait for the workspace admin to approve.
That’s it. You’re set for intercompany collaboration without leaving Slack.
Slack Connect DMs
When sharing information with other companies, you may not want to invite multiple people to a channel. For private projects, sensitive information, or for the sake of not involving people who don’t need more Slack notifications, you can create a Slack Connect DM.
When inviting an external user to your Slack, choose Start a new message in the Invite external people workflow.
Why is intercompany collaboration important?
The supply chains of most organizations have grown unwieldy. Unfortunately, this complexity is often only uncovered during a crisis. As partners and suppliers are typically global in nature and work across time zones, coordinating meetings and conferences (synchronous communication) can be difficult.
This is why, despite all the advances in apps and services, the lowest common denominator for intercompany communication has been email.
Intercompany collaboration emphasizes the use of asynchronous communication, collaboration, and automation. This non-real-time way of working allows work to get done more efficiently by reducing human latency.
By allowing companies to redesign the way they work, the more mundane and transactional elements of manual processes (like approvals and sign-offs) can be automated.
In Omdia’s Future of Work survey, this question was posed:
“How has COVID-19 changed the emphasis your organization will place on the following priorities over the next 12 to 24 months?”
Respondents indicated their more important priorities highlighted below. Indeed, many of these priorities can be addressed by team collaboration platforms like Slack.
Why is Slack important for intercompany collaboration?
Slack’s vision of becoming a “digital HQ” is different from vendors that want to become an integrative hub for team work. Slack sees itself as the infrastructure that supports productivity and collaboration (rather than a central app that integrates other services in one place).
Slack can provide a differentiated, automated, and integrative platform that connects the back office to customer-facing employees and organizations to their suppliers and partners. Slack has more than 935,000 custom apps and integrations to help companies simplify the way they collaborate and these integrations are made available through Slack Connect.
Indeed, at Slack Frontiers 2021, Slack Connect got an upgrade. Previously, channels supported intercompany collaboration for up to 20 companies. From next year, Slack Connect will support up to 250 organizations.
By using Slack as a collaborative infrastructure, organizations can not only work together but automate the flow of information within their organization and throughout their digital supply chain (i.e., between partners, suppliers, and other companies).
According to Slack, since Workflow Builder launched, more than 400,000 users have built workflows for automating processes like approvals, service desk incidents, or PTO requests.
Unlike other platforms, Slack provides a genuine collaboration experience for external contacts. What you get in one workspace is mirrored in the other.
Slack previously had a guest experience whereby the “guest” received an inferior experience to the originating Slack workspace.
Slack Connect vs guest users
When weighing up Slack Connect vs guest users, the improvements are clear.
|Slack Connect||Guest Users|
|Best for long-term partnerships with external organizations||Best for temporary relationships or for someone who needs limited access (e.g. interns or contractors)|
|Access to multiple channels from your own workspace||Single-channel guest or multi-channel guest by signing into a new workspace rather than using their own Slack workspace|
|Access to DMs||Must be a channel member to DM (guests can DM only members of the channel(s) that they’re in)|
|Connect up to 20 external organizations (250 organizations as of Jan 2023)||Up to 5 single-channel guests|
|Admins grant approval to new organizations||Users grant approval to new organizations (workspace owners and admins can manage guests)|
|Available to all on any paid plan||Teams get five free single-channel guests per paid active member|
|Workflows can be used by anyone in the channel||Workflow restrictions|
It’s not purely the on-screen experience that Slack excels in. Slack workflow automations are considered easiest to configure compared to rivals like Microsoft Teams.
The number of Slack integrations has also tipped over 2,300, too—an industry high.
Intercompany collaboration with companies not using Slack
If your external contacts use platforms other than Slack, the opportunity for better intercompany collaboration does not end there.
It’s not only Slack vs email in the intercompany collaboration discussion.
Via message interoperability, Slack users can connect channels and DMs to users on the following platforms:
- Microsoft Teams
- Zoom Team Chat
All you need to do is create a universal channel in your Slack workspace and invite your user on the other platform.
Once a channel is established between Slack and Microsoft Teams (for example), you can break out into cross-platform DMs too.
In both channels and DMs, the following functionality is supported cross-platform:
- Message edits
- Message deletions
- Formatting like b i u
- File sharing
- Threaded messages
To learn how to use Slack for intercompany collaboration when external contacts don’t use Slack, visit the Mio website.