Email. It has been a part of our daily lives now for over a decade. We use it for business, pleasure, and everything in between. Most of us still have that old Hotmail address that we refuse to delete and we all cringe when we see that email from the boss. We eagerly await responses from colleagues, to only be disappointed when it’s the latest Target promotional email. It’s a great way to drum up communication with potential clients and old classmates, but what about for your current team? Is email really necessary, or would you benefit more from something similar to email, but with a heavy focus on collaboration? Thankfully, in 2015 there are some viable alternatives to the old, trusty email. They’re not looking to replace email, but rather offer alternatives to the traditional structure.
This is being proven evident by team communication app, Slack, and their recent $2.8 billion valuation after a round of funding totaling $160 million. This has increased from a $1.2 billion valuation in October 2014. Slack offers you team communication, quick sharing features, and private messaging all from your desktop or mobile device. Is it similar to Skype? Sure, but with Slack being open sourced, integration with Gmail and other programs is much easier. With both desktop and mobile apps available, Slack can be anywhere you need it to be. If there is one reason to check out Slack, however, it is most certainly because of its internal GIF search engine, because nothing says “I hate you all” like a well-placed GIF of Mr. Rogers flipping the bird to a bunch of children.
Another option, especially for those of you out there who stay on the move constantly, is the Android and iOS communication tool, Hop. Hop uses your existing email (Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, and iCloud) and presents it in a much easier to digest form. With Hop, you only see email conversations in which you’ve participated in. All bulk mail is hidden away, and requires you to actually go check it to see it, it’s never in your face. It’s visually similar (purposely) to checking your text messages and Hop even structures correspondence as such. Email conversations are displayed by a series of word bubbles with a text box for your next message at the bottom of the thread, just like traditional text messaging. If your entire team is using Hop, you get additional benefits such as voice and video calls. You are even notified when the other party is in the process of typing if you both have the app, and correspondence is even faster.
If you are looking for a highly secured team communication method, then HipChat might be a better solution. HipChat performs very similarly to Slack, but with their latest update, HipChat Server allows teams to communicate behind corporate firewalls by deploying HipChat on your own server. Most users will never need this feature, but it’s a fantastic option to have if you love the features of team communication software but security is a major concern. HipChat Server contains all of the features its cloud-based version has including screen-sharing, video, and audio and is available on all major platforms.
There are quite a few options available to users, and it really comes down to finding out which one works best for not only you, but your entire team, as well. If your team is mobile constantly, something like Hop might be a good choice for you. If you switch between platforms regularly, and are looking for an option that allows for major customization and integration, give Slack a chance. If security is a major concern, then HipChat is a viable option. One thing is for certain, the need for exclusively using traditional email is over, as there are better options out there for team communication.