Frontiers London : A conference by Slack

Slack Frontiers 2018

As proud developers in Slack with our polling application, we at Open Agora couldn’t miss Frontiers London on November 13th and 14th. It was the first conference out of the USA. We’ve compiled in this article our impressions and humble takeaways.

Day #1 at Slack frontiers London:  meet the cool in Silicon Valley style

The San Francisco collaboration hub chose a very hype location for its first annual conference outside the USA : Printworks London, a former industrial warehouse. Woodbuilt sponsors stands, free all day mochaccinos and lounge music contributed to give a “silicon valley style” to the venue.

After a couple of hours mingling among fellow Slack developers, partners and clients, we all moved to the main conference hall. It was the moment for the introduction keynote.

An inspiring keynote by Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield

Taking the stage for not more than 30 minutes, Mr Butterfield explained the new challenge for organisations. It is no longer about strategy, but how effectively people can work together. Through the different eras, computers have impacted our lives moving from producing documents to enable relationships and ultimately increase productivity. Slack is a product of this new area of computing. Thanks to technology we’ve been able to automate a lot of tasks, so that teams can focus on their creativity and intelligence.  According to Mr Butterfield, the key metrics for organizational success are: alignment, coordination, clarity, collaboration and agility. If you implement this, your teams will continue to be “excited to come to work” and perform, Butterfield concluded.

The next big thing: Total Motivation or TOMO

slack frontiers Stewart butterfield
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield & Lindsay McGregor

The Slack CEO passed on to Lindsay McGregor, best-selling author and Vega Factor cofounder, to walk us through the TOMO approach to performance. Like two faces of the Yin and the Yang, performance can be Tactical (how well you execute) or Adaptive (how you diverge from the plan when needed). McGregor explains that an employee total motivation (TOMO) is defined in the motives spectrum :

  • 3 direct motives : play (you like your job), purpose (you find a meaning in that job) and potential (that job can lead to pay rise or higher grade).
  • 3 indirect motives : emotional pressure (you feel guilty if you’re not working), economic pressure (you work for money)  and inertia (you came up to the office today because you came yesterday).  

Successful teams maximize the direct motives thanks to collaboration and culture. And if you think about it, that’s pretty much the focus of Slack: improving communication!

slack frontiers TOMO
TOMO (Total Motivation) Courtesy of the Vega Factor

After these inspiring 2 keynotes, all conference attendees went back to the sponsors’ village: successful large companies like Dropbox and Okta, and a few startups part of the Slack fund like Troop and Guru. For Open Agora it was a great opportunity to meet Slack employees from San Francisco and from the Dublin office in Ireland to share best conditions for collaboration. A cool “networking cocktail” followed and it was soon time for us to leave the conference and rest for much awaited day 2.

Day #2: Slack reaches a new level of team engagement

Second day at frontiers a conference by Slack was all about the product and the new practices to help leaders and their teams run successfully operations within Slack.

2018 features overview by Slack management team

The presentations from April Underwood & Robert Frati first reminded us of the incredible growth Slack has experienced this year. They’ve now reached more than 8 millions daily active users, and 3 millions paid users. More than 1500 apps are published.  

Slack has shown great rhythm in constantly releasing new features and improvements, here’s a non exhausting list:

  • New intuitive search filter to find anything in Slack channels.
  • Improved app performance: it is now over 70% faster.
  • Message actions: right click on a message to interact with other useful applications you use within your team.
  • 22 languages supported now, latest is Japanese.
  • Totally GDPR compliant.
  • Premium features (enterprise grid): shared channels between different Slack workspaces, EKM (enterprise key management), data protection.

The main upcoming feature scheduled for april 2019 is called  Block kit: a UI toolkit for developers to build rich and intuitive integrations that look native to Slack.

Breakout sessions: Stories of customers scaling with Slack

As the sessions continued through the day, we could hear a lot of customer stories and exciting projects successfully completed with the help of Slack, here are a few:  

  • The 20th Century fox uses Slack as a global project platform. A great teamwork could be showcased during the latest football World Cup with broadcast technicians, community managers and TV programmers all working together with Slack.
  • For Monzo bank in UK, Slack has been a great tool to manage the constant flow of new hires as the engineering team doubled every 2 months. People starting in the company had immediate access to a lot of information and could get up to speed, while easily communicating with HR and other departments.
  • At Lonely Planet the main barrier is geography, as team members can be distributed on different continents. In Slack they know in which time zone each colleague is right now. They build community channels by locations to always get new ideas and suggestions to put in the guide book.  

A common point of these stories is strong integration of third party applications like Trello, Zoom, Github, Donut. Automation using applications is the key for productivity.

Slack use cases: constant process improvement to increase productivity

The last breakout sessions we decided to attend were dedicated to some key strategic processes enhanced with Slack and specific applications.

  • Hiring new employees: integrating in Slack processes such as applicant tracking, employee referral sourcing, increases by 24% employee full productivity.
  • Keeping customers happy: optimize your ticket management, measure and share customer satisfaction through polls in slack.  
  • Closing deals faster: Slack and sales are just a perfect fit. If you’re using Salesforce, Hubspot, or Intercom and make these sales tools interact in Slack you’re likely to shorten your sales cycle by 13%, and increase by 25% the number of won deals.
slack frontiers use case closing deals faster

All good things come to an end, after a long but inspiring conference it is time for the team to head back to France through the Channel! I wonder if Eurostar employees use Slack, they could provide some great use cases 🤔

slack frontiers eurostar

Further reading on this topic

A Weekend at Vivatech: a Startup’s Point of View

Read also on our blog

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