Slack touts ‘announcement channels’ for team update broadcasts

The company also rolled out new APIs to make it easier for admins to manage and automate some functions in larger deployments.

Slack logo/wordmark [2019]

Slack admins can now designate any channel to be used for announcements only, a move aimed at minimizing distractions and ensuring that important information is communicated to workers.

While it’s already possible to limit posting in the default #general channel in Slack workspaces, the change unveiled today allows admins on Slack’s paid Plus and Enterprise Grid plans to restrict other channels as well. So, for instance, #it-announcements or #emea-announcements channels can be restricted to broadcasting information only.

The goal is to prevent employees from posting messages in channels intended for announcements (such as IT-related requests in an IT announcements channel), which can lead to other workers muting the channel and ignoring it completely. 

It will still be possible to respond to messages using threaded replies in announcement channels. 

“Announcement channels are a highly-requested feature from customers, particularly at the growing number of organizations where Slack is being adopted wall-to-wall,” said Ilan Frank, head of enterprise product at Slack. 

“We built the feature to help ensure communications are seen, create a reliable source of truth within organizations and allow users to share feedback on announcements immediately through emoji reactions or threads,” Frank said.

“Based on customer feedback, we think IT admins and corporate communications teams will be pleased.…” 

Larry Cannell, a research director at Gartner, said that, while it’s not a “killer feature,” the announcement channel move will be a welcome addition for admins taking care of busy workspaces. “If Slack is to replace email, then this type of capability is needed,” he said.

Slack will also introduce APIs to help automate some of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks admins are required to carry out when managing large-scale deployments. The APIs will, for example, let admins create workspaces and assign members, as well as invite thousands of guest accounts to specific channels at a time. These “events” can automatically be triggered by information collected via web forms, Slack said, such as a user submitting a request to create a new workspace.

It will soon be possible to automate app approvals and rejections across Enterprise Grid deployments. So an organization that relies on Box, for instance, as its primary document storage platform can whitelist the app eliminating the need for manually approvals each time a new workspace is created. It will also be possible to create rules to authorize certain apps, enabling workers to use apps that only post rather than read data, or banning all requests for certain types of apps. 

“Provisioning and management use cases are the most obvious scenarios to leverage these admin APIs,” said Cannell. “For example, a third-party tool could use the APIs to help manage a Slack installation alongside other IT infrastructure. Or, it could be as simple as a Slack admin creating a provisioning script to ease their own efforts. I expect we’ll also see admins publicly sharing these types of scripts.”

Enterprise Grid was launched in 2017 for Slack’s biggest customers, with additional features to support large-scale deployments. Among the 150 organizations now using Enterprise Grid are Capital One, IBM and Target.

The latest features build on new security capabilities for Enterprise Grid announced by Slack earlier this month to help manage Slack on mobile devices.

The announcement channels are available now for Plus and Enterprise Grid customers.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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