Collaboration & Enterprise Software

Kevin Kwok wrote a must read piece a few weeks ago about how crucial it is for collaboration to be a fundamental, “first party” aspect of enterprise software.

People think of Slack as a collaboration tool. But Kevin makes the point that a major reason Slack is so necessary (and valuable) is that other applications and business processes are fundamentally broken. You need Slack to fill in the gaps. You switch out of a productivity app (Salesforce) and move to a collaboration app (Slack) because Salesforce doesn’t have collaboration as a primary aspect of the product.

As an example, a sales manager might be in Salesforce and notice that a revenue number on a particular deal is inaccurate. The manager will go to Slack and send a message to the rep. The rep will respond in Slack and go fix the number in Salesforce. If Salesforce was truly collaborative, all of this communication would’ve happened inside of Salesforce. But it’s not. And that’s where Slack picks up the slack for non-collaborative business applications (pun intended). From the piece:

The dream of Slack is that they become the central nervous system for all of a company’s employees and apps. This is the view of a clean *separation* of productivity and collaboration. Have all your apps for productivity and then have a single app for coordinating everyone, with your apps also feeding notifications into this system.

But productivity *isn’t* separate from collaboration.


It’s not that Slack is too distracting and killing individual productivity. It’s that your company’s processes are so dysfunctional you need Slack to be distracting and killing individual productivity.

For the first 10 to 15 years of my career, I used Microsoft Office applications. I didn’t consider anything else. They had a total monopoly. In the last five or so years that has completely changed. I never use Word or PowerPoint (I still use Excel frequently). For word processing and presentations I almost exclusively use Google Docs and Google Slides. I’ve made this change for one reason and one reason only: collaboration. G Suite (Google’s suite of productivity applications) is fundamentally built on collaboration. It works really well. Collaboration in Microsoft Office applications is clunky and was clearly an afterthought. It’s very difficult to start with productivity only, run that playbook for several years and then back into collaboration. Collaboration from the outset makes things a lot easier.

Healthcare software is suffering greatly from the fact that the software clinicians use didn’t have collaboration as a fundamental part of the code. Most medical software was rushed to market in response to government incentives and collaboration across different organizations wasn’t important. Now, like Microsoft Office tried to do, many of these applications are trying to back into collaboration as a fundamental feature and it’s not working.

This is one of many reasons that PatientPing exists and is growing so quickly. Our software puts collaboration first. Our entire platform is built around collaboration and allowing disparate healthcare organizations to collaborate on shared patients. We’ve tapped into a desperate need because of the way healthcare software was developed. If collaboration had been build into healthcare software from the beginning, our product wouldn’t be in such demand.

Similarly, Slack is widely touted as the fastest growing business application in history. Not to take anything away from their success, but much of the reason for their success is that Slack picks up the slack of so many other widely distributed productivity applications across nearly every industry. The lack of fundamental collaboration in productivity apps created the conditions for Slack’s massive success.