Slack Connect lets up to 20 organizations chat in one channel

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Slack today announced the launch of Connect, a way for up to 20 organizations to communicate in a single Slack channel. Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said Connect has been under development for four years. Slack Connect is rolling out for paying customers now, and may be made available in some capacity for the unpaid tier of Slack in the future. Channels are a central part of the Slack experience and are intended to bring people together to chat, share files, and do other things for a particular project or topic.

Connect launches with the ability to direct message people in a channel but additional features will be introduced in the future including the ability to send direct messages to more people from different organizations. A calendar integration will allow participants in a group channel to scan the calendars of people from participating groups and find a time that works for everyone.

The news comes a day after Microsoft made Teams available for personal use among friends and family.

Slack CPO Tamar Yehoshua said in a virtual press conference with reporters today said Connect will sync with company specific security standards and data access goes away after an organization leaves a channel. Enterprise key management for Connect will be made available this summer.

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“If a customer is sharing a channel with another organization and the other organization’s people have visibility into data in the channel that’s been provided by your organization and you revoke your keys, that data becomes invisible to the members of that organization,” she said.

The Slack app for team or organization communication introduced shared channels in the past for two organizations to work in a shared channels, but Connect is made to bring enough people into a channel to make email unnecessary. To help people who must use email for work or have no Slack account, emailing messages to channels was introduced by Slack last year.

Connect may also be used to grow integrations and automate workflows between organizations, Slack VP lan Frank said during the virtual press event.

“Each side has access control for the application that they install and they determine what the other side has access to as far as being able to call a workflow so the installation of the app and the configuration of that is all done on either side of the channel,” he said.

Connect launches with a 20-organization limit but will grow beyond that capacity in the future, Yehoshua said.