Insight by Slack

DoD Cloud Exchange 2024: Slack’s Rob Seaman on powering productivity, collaboration

Public and private sector organizations can reduce friction and make employees lives easier by leaning into tools like Slack, says the company's Rob Seaman.

When it comes to speed to decisions, the Army Software Factory offers an important use case. The organization leaned into automation and collaboration tools to disseminate information two to three days faster than through other means — like email or meetings.

This simple, but real-life example is helping the Army, and the Defense Department more broadly, fill the communications gulch that can exist in organizations, especially as agencies continue to adjust to a hybrid workforce.

“What we are most excited about is actually seeing these collaboration technologies that have been so successful in the private sector make their way into the public sector,” said Rob Seaman, senior vice president of platform product at Slack, during Federal News Network’s DoD Cloud Exchange 2024.

In addition to the productivity benefits from leveraging a collaboration platform, GovSlack’s recent FedRAMP High authorization means security conscious public sector agencies can rest assured their data is well protected, Seaman said.

“There are a few key aspects of these collaboration technologies that can help with some of the larger agencies that are interconnected and geographically dispersed or may have people that are working both in the office and at home,” he said. “Some of the primary benefits we see from these collaboration technologies are alignment and speed, as well as the ability to get people together and aligned around a particular initiative or topic where they can work faster than you ever have been able to do before.”

How to stay connected without meetings

Seaman said employees can work together or asynchronously without missing a beat or feeling like they were left out of a discussion.

He said executives at Slack, for example, encourage employees to write documents or record an audio or video clip in lieu of a meeting.

“We do this all the time, where instead of scheduling an all-hands call for the company, every other all hands we will actually do asynchronously, and our executives will just record clips, and then people can go in and watch them at two times speed whenever they like,” he said. “They can actually just read the transcripts instead of watching it if they aren’t in a place where they can listen to audio or it might be interruptive to what they have going on at home.”

Another benefit is the integration with third-party applications that collaboration and productivity tools bring, Seaman said.

How to reduce friction, increase agency speed

At Salesforce, Slack’s parent company, executives manage all of their approvals — from expenses to leave requests — right in Slack using the platform’s integration and automation capabilities.

“We’ve seen a reduction in the median time it takes to approve expense reports from 2.4 days to 1.7 hours  — across 80,000 employees,” Seaman said. “We see a ton of value in actually bringing the systems that your people need to use into where the communication is happening. When somebody needs to approve an expense report or somebody needs to approve a project brief or creative brief or something like that, just bring it to where they’re communicating. It’s also like a notification that may spark a conversation or requires a human to take an action.”

That integration with other software as a service applications is something any large organization in the public or private sector can take advantage of, he suggested. Too often organizations force employees to “context switch” between applications that don’t talk to one another, causing frustration and friction in their daily work, Seaman added. Slack has 2,700 apps that are integrated out of the box.

Seaman said authorizations like FedRAMP High and additional compliance features like application programming interfaces  for e-discovery and data loss prevention tools help engender confidence in the tools.

“The fact that using tools like this — that allow you to achieve a higher level of alignment across your organization, and all of your initiatives will ultimately make you as an agency faster — it allows you to embrace hybrid work,” he said.

“One of the ways that you can achieve that is by bringing more and more of your systems into where the communication is happening. Don’t make people go search for tasks. Bring tasks they need to do to them, and allow them to quickly act on them. You’re going to be faster, you’re going to save money, and, ultimately, they’re going to be happier and more productive.”

Discover more articles and videos now on Federal News Network’s DoD Cloud Exchange event page.

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