That's the exact opposite of what I'd want. Most small businesses have the same email problem that I always feel like I do. Too many requests come in via email and it's hard to track, discuss, resolve, and (at a later date) reference all that info.
This is what I wanted on MS365:
- Forward an email to a special address. Ex: firstname.lastname@example.org (the TODO address for email@example.com).
- Use Power Automate to create a Teams channel for the email.
- Use Power Automate to post some cards to the channel; one to (optionally) create a Planner Task, one to resolve the topic.
- Notify @ryan29 about the new topic.
- I deal with the topic. If it's long lived or complex, I create a Task. If I need input, I @mention others that can help. If it's simple 5-15 minute thing, I do the work and click the link to resolve the topic.
- When the topic is closed (by link or by closing the related task), the Teams channel is archived and the original email thread gets a reply saying it's done with a link to the Teams channel.
That way all conversation about the task is consolidated into Teams, long lived tasks are tracked via Planner, email stays relatively clean from internal communication, and I don't waste a bunch of time dealing with some 3rd party's idea of optimal workflows or value adds.
The issues I had were that Teams, Planner, etc. have limits on the number of channels / tasks and Power Automate / Teams lacked some functionality that would make it really streamlined.
However, I was close enough after a few hours of playing around that I can't believe something like "adding Slack chat to email threads" is a $1 billion problem.
I switched my team over Teams and asked them to create a card in the planner tasks if they needed something from me - instead of emailing me. That was much easier for me to keep track of everything. E-mail is good for communicating a thought, I don't find it good for tracking tasks - particularly tasks that have a deadline.
I think the main reason that happens is that I get delegated work and it often starts via email; "Please deal with this.", "Can we do this?", etc.. Based on my experience, that type of delegation is common for owner operated small businesses. Most of those small business owners don't want to create a ticket, assign it, set a due date, and track it when they're used to something as efficient as forwarding an email and expecting the recipient to understand the implied "do this" that comes along with it.
Plus, a forwarded email saying "Can we do this?" doesn't make sense as a ticket when sometimes the answer is going to be a 15 second "No." Other times it might be "Yes, but..." after 30 minutes of research and additional conversation. That warrants some type of tracking or ticket because you're going to need that info if it turns into a billable job.
So as the delegate, I want to be able to decide an existing thread of communication warrants conversion to a trackable conversation or issue. In addition to that, I want to be able to take future out-of-band communication and move it in-band by associating it with an existing conversation, ticket, topic, or whatever you want to call it. For example, if a customer emails someone with extra info or questions, it would be useful to forward the whole thread into an existing Teams Channel.
I mostly deal with small businesses and very often it's the owner interacting with a customer and delegating to employees via whatever means is appropriate. It usually doesn't make sense for the business owner to manage a ticket tracking system because that's extra work they don't want to / can't waste time on. It makes way more sense for the delegate to manage tasks / communication instead of the delegator IMO.
I've looked at Trello, Asana, Basecamp, etc. and I'm always left with the feeling "now you're going to have 2 jobs." They're designed for 100% buy-in, someone has to be the person that manages that stuff, and any out-of-band communication is a pain to bring in-band so you spend your time copying conversations into the system.
That's likely going to stay that way, because there are people on both ends, not machines. They'll write an FB messenger note about "coming with us to lunch?, oh, btw, we found an interesting bug in xyz, you really need to frobnicate the belzebubs"; And then they'll send you an SMS while driving (because their in-car system is older), "oh, and the original fix doesn't fix the bug".
This is a people problem, not a technical problem. It takes discipline, but at an old job I simply refused to respond to anything that wasn't filed in Jitterbug (ultra-low-ceremony issue tracking from the Samba project). And as a result, all was tracked properly.
Now that people have phones that take pictures and whatsapp, they take screenshots and send them to me, and I have no better workflow to offer, so I do accept those issues as well.
I suspect no piece of infrastructure will be the ultimate thing. What you described above will likely make a difference only if it can only receive SMS, WhatsApp, FB Messenger, and somehow do it without requiring your users to call/message/email a different address.
We're just repeating the all the mistakes of prior CRM and ERP horror stories. Those were cautionary tales, not guidebooks.
Is there a secret to this? Does an app exist, are there logs in cases of errors? What am I missing about this?
Creating sensible workflows is actually work and there is no import/export to other tenants as far as I know. I recommend it to people that want to have a negative experience with "the cloud".
Didn't take a look, but what theoretically could be nice is somehow lacking. Maybe it got better, wasn't interested for some time now.
It can be nice for very simple things and I would love to have a good workflow engine.
> That way all conversation about the task is consolidated into Teams
You can get any ticket system from around 2005 and it will be much, much better. At least you can actually access the data. Haven't looked into the Teams API, but I somehow don't want to honestly.
It reminds me of Frontpage...
This should be possible with firstname.lastname@example.org though .. in conjunction with filtering. I use this for bookmarking and some basic categorisation.
Revenue multiples have, at best, only tenuous relationship to cashflow. If you sell $10 notes for $1, in theory you can have infinite revenue.
I wish investors would just stop pretending tech valuation these days have anything to do with financials, which is actually fine.
Maybe it is time we shift what we think the equity market is about. Nowadays its less a place to go looking for returns and more one-giant-PATREON where you buy a stake just because you are a fan.
It still seems like magic, and even more so then, but it penciled. Sponsor got in with the last pre-IPO round (think like a Wellington/Fidelity who essentially buys their IPO allocation by entering slightly early) at $3.5B, IPO was $4.5B, and Friday night post dinner w/ redbull DCF spit out ~~$5.0B to $6.5B. After a few months it trended up to that Enterprise Value. The mind is simply not good at understanding compounding at 70% (or whatever) free cash flow conversion. Not having COGS or working capital or CAPEX is magical.
That being said it’s insanely hard to move from a “things might be worth 10x EBITDA” to “things might be worth 10x revenue”. It’s like using different parts of the brain (left vs right) or quantum physics versus more traditional physics: there’s some magical stuff that’s probably rules based with underlying structure underneath that just doesn’t make sense.
Just one anecdotal example.
Sure, but revenue multiples are specific to a business or product type. A consulting company's revenue multiple might be 2x or 3x. A cloud-based SaaS with no hands-on setup might be 10x. A HelloFresh/BlueApron business might be, say, 7x. For some types of businesses, I wouldn't even pay 1x. If an investor is applying the wrong multiple to a business, they wont be around for long.
It appears this site is using San Francisco.
Slack is detrimental to team communication in several ways, and bringing it to email is a mistake imho. Slack combines the stress and urgency of text messaging with the importance of email. Your Slack becomes a Facebook or Twitter feed - another infinite feed that addicts you to some level. Since it's a chat, the conversations are shallow and disorganized.
For example, search never worked properly in Slack for me. Furthermore, synchronous communication has proven poor for wellness and work-life balance.
I know Slack just got acquired and its the hot new thing but email is great as it is - its our ways of using it that need to change.
I'd add in IM for quick 1-to-1 chats but that's all.
It has a way to go, but I found it the right mix of persistent, long-form discussion and decision making using Threads, and sync communication using Messages. It's the best of both worlds, if you can educate a team to use it properly.
On your point, slack has brought fluidity and lightheartedness to our internal comms. IMHO less demanding than "chat apps" and way better than email chains for internal comms.
I think you meant "synchronous" here ;)
EDIT - thanks to everyone correcting me on the sync vs async! I fixed it in the original comment.
In my part of the world people will cringe and frown if they heard I am not using WhatsApp. I can understand them, I'd probably do the same thing if I heard someone does not use email. Personally I have trouble and probably mild OCD just to check every emails in my few email accounts, imagine going through all the Whatsapp groups messages. I'd rather voluntarily go to hard labour rather than reading the WhatsApp group messages.
What we need is an email++ with asynchronous nature of email and the convenient but not the intensity of WhatsApp, if that makes sense. Google Wave probably come close but it came earlier than expected and gone as soon as it arrived. Perhaps someone can utilize CRDT/Automerge to make it even better than Wave by going local-first.
I have trained my colleagues and boss to never expect a response right away. We’re also forced to use Skype at work which is a plague because people are lazy and will call about anything and everything without thinking it through. So same thing there, I’ve disabled all sounds, filter notification emails away, set my self to busy all the time, and never answer calls when they come in except it it was agreed upon beforehand (so, like a meeting)
I try and force these incurable skypers to send an email instead: it forces them to really think their stuff through, organize it in a more structured way, and takes me two minutes to answer instead of having a 15 min call that is all over the place.
And I don’t get interrupted while trying to visualize complex things in my head.
This is a great way to handle people who jump straight to "let's just do a call, it'll be easier [for me]"
For people who are like this, I will often just say I'm not available for a call for a few hours, and ask them to send me a written message in Slack instead. Most of the time, I am able to just help them async on Slack instead of spending 30min-1hr (x2 since we're both in it) in a call.
You said "asynchronous communication is detrimental to your health". Since asynchronous=email, I read "email is detrimental to your health". I thought you meant the contrary (slack is detrimental to your health -> synchronous communication is detrimental to your health) so I though it was a mistake.
Threads/Conversations are the only way to talk in normal team channels. This means that messages are automatically grouped on topic and you can ignore the ones you don't care about. I have never worked with a Slack team that used threads effectively and so you regularly end up reading a load of stuff you don't care about to find the stuff you do care about.
Separation between a Team channel and a chat channel. Chat channels are more like normal Slack conversations - they end up being fairly synchronous. The Team channel is where the more asynchronous stuff goes. We have a strong project convention (almost a rule) to use use a Team channel if more than 2 people are involved. It helps visibility and means that conversations default to async. But if I write a direct message to someone then it's because I want to interrupt and get an answer and so they get pinged.
This means I get pinged a few times a day about things I need (as SW Lead) to deal with, and the rest of the time I can just catch up on threads when I'm waiting for a compilation.
For context, my company (https://prestodoctor.com) has spent tens of thousands of dollars on Front licenses, so I'm not just some random nay-sayer :-)
I HATE Slack. For me, it turns into a gross “pinging you” and overall is insanely annoying to be in channels and check back on information. Or, finding files or using search is Hell. Not to mention their insanely painful login experience. I am looking forward to its death at CRM.
Front is the real deal. Hands down the greatest productivity software I’ve used in YEARS. If you haven’t used it check it out. If you collaborate with a small team it will change your life.
It’s nothing like Slack...
Edit: To clarify some more. Slack and Front are for different mindsets.
Front is best when you are a project/assignment driven person. Slack is best when you are just a drone on a project/channel (if that makes sense...).
Slack also is great when the conversation is heavily one sided. Boss bugging employee. Or, someone who doesn’t know what they are doing has lots of questions for someone who knows what they are doing during a task. Which is fine and has a use.
Thinking about it, CRM should have bought Front instead. Their CRM/people integration is getting incredibly good especially as a support desk suite beyond “email”. The Slack sale is one of the greatest heist I’ve ever seen.
Looking forward to Front eating Outlook and Team’s lunch next
> Slack also is great when the conversation is heavily one sided.
Honestly, that seems extremely unfair to me. It feels like you're using it wrong. In my experience, Slack is for conversations. The groups I'm in use it for tossing out random thoughts/questions... and people participate as they choose.
If you're using in a way where people are constantly pinging you demanding your attention, then you should change that. That's no different than being in a large office and everyone else feeling free to just walk over to you and tap you on the shoulder every time they want something. If _that_ was happening, it would be something you should fix, too.
Chat is definitely needed and important but nothing ever gets lost really by “tossing out random questions” in Front.
I would rethink twice how you are communicating in the work place. I find that messy and then forces people to juggle back “oh, yeah what did you Slack me about this the other day”. The most annoying people on Slack don’t realize they are annoying.
Either way to each it’s own. Check out Front and stay open minded to how you communicate in work place
I'm not a big fan of Slack, but it is the best of the chat apps, and I do see a need for team chat for collaboration.
It’s a little puzzling to me why Gmail does not simply separate machine generated from human originated email.
Not to sound like the Dropbox comment from back in the day, but cc’ing and forwarding are just the basics when it comes to email.
It's been at least 4-5 years of the first time we had it. I never update the "10" part.
I said this before, but I hate the direction the workspace is going. Interruption driven work seems to become the new normal.
I logged in to Wave using my hard-earned early-invite in excitement only to realize I couldn't communicate with non-wave gmail users :(
(Link for the curious: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25266584).
We’re currently on Helpscout and quite happy. But have to admit I felt very tempted to switch to missive after visiting their page. And I didn’t even look for an alternative nor have any major issues with helpscout to begin with.
Anyone with firsthand experience of any of those tools that can compare?
Front is a competitor to Salesforce. And much nicer/simpler. It does that by creating a shared inbox. And it creates an entire workflow around that. Even though it's a shared inbox...who gets what.
It basically makes your support@ address better. I'm super unsure on why it's even being called as "slackifying email", because that's not what it does. I'm not sure what "ephemeral conversation" means...but Front treats a support email as a ticket. So your internal teams can comment on an email and discuss what action to take,etc.
> Thanks, and have a nice day
> Booleandilemma's boss
I guess we can dream :)
(But seriously, as a manager, this is what I'd likely try to do. I'd check with you first, to see how you felt about the situation, of course. Being CC'd is an invitation to get involved on behalf of my team)
But seriously, I find including someone's boss on the first email to them (I'd imagine to just prioritize the sender's task and make the recipient look bad if they don't follow through) is highly passive-aggressive. In general, my boss is concerned in what I accomplish for/with my team, and it sure would be nice to do whatever thing you're foisting upon me, but I'd just like to tell them to add it to the ever-elongating queue of other teams' requests. I've got my own job to do!
Well, way back when, as someone who likes to do a good job, but quickly (Personally, I just don't like a backlog of work,) as a bright-eyed intern, I learned very quickly not to ever 'be nice' to anyone not on your team.
It was 'just another internship-learning-experience,' but it sure opened my eyes to the two Iron Laws of corporations:
(1) If it breaks, and you touched it last, it's entirely your fault.
(2) [This was an extremely hard lesson to learn as a 'naturally helpful' kind of person:] If you help someone with something, it's your responsibility. Forever.
Needless to say, I learned quickly. I learned that corporations are more or less perversions of regular society where everyone tries to punt work off to whoever else seems most suitable or exploitable.
FWIW, I'll often cc my own boss when reaching out to someone in a different team, as I figure he can help with any coordination required. Hopefully that doesn't come off as passive aggressive but I guess it really depends.
I spent a good amount of time thinking of ideas and building a plugin for our clients/use case. I think the concept would be killer if we can execute and get our clients to scale.
THENNNNN FB changed their rules and now I can't use Front to message outside of 24 hours.
I wouldn't bet/invest FB won't block all access to Messenger api once tools like Front are just gaining traction and or they have time to copy the best features into their own messenger tool.
My experience with the Front plugin api is kind of not great and missing basic features that were in version 1 but not in 2, and 1 is not supported anymore. And I think the RxJS doesn't help and like if you have to 'hack' a settimeout anyways to get and cache the state then what's the point...
I don't like the randomization of that chat can bring, but being able to join and leave channels is much preferable to e-mail.
Slack integratons are not full-featured but they're more flexible than what you can embed in an email, even with gmail's markup actions. There's no other 'inbox for interactive widgets'.
"Combine the Web, instant messaging and e-mail, and you get Zaplets...You also get a fistful of nifty features--from live chats and instant polls to real-time snapshots of your stock portfolio"
It was created by a company called FireDrop that raised $100 million and then suddenly flamed out. Bad timing, maybe, since this was around the time of the crash. I can't remember anyone I know ever receiving a Zaplet but they sure generated a lot of buzz.
So even if you knew what would be better for people than email in the long-run, it's not clear that it would be better for them in the short-run. And even if it is actually better for people in the short-run, you still have to convince them of this in order for them to try your new thing.
So to disrupt email you not only have to 'skate to where the puck is going', you also have to convince a bunch of other people to skate away from where the puck is now.
I’m just about ready to give up on my inbox as a lost cause, and that’s my work inbox.
I've brought a tiny bit of sanity to my Outlook inbox  by using many, many rules. The goal is to move an email out of my Inbox and to a folder of my choosing on receipt. I hit about 80%. (And every week or so I update the rules to try to capture more of the 20%. But the goalposts constantly move.)
I then use a search folder to show "all unread messages", group the view by "in folder", and treat that as my inbox. (It still shows messages in the actual Inbox.)
I find this very useful in removing some of the cognitive load of email.
- 10 emails arrive in Inbox.
- Email 1 is about project x. You figure that out, switch mental context to project x, action it perhaps, move on.
- Email 2 is about project y. You figure that out, switch mental context to project y, file it, move on.
- All (most) of the email regarding project x is filtered to the project x folder.
- When I choose to, I go there and do things.
- I never have to cognitively switch out of 'project x mode' until I choose to.
Setting up and maintaining the rules is a pain in the ass, and Outlook fights you at every turn. But for me it's 100% worth the effort.
: Corporate environment, so it's not like I can use any of these funky cloud services. It's what I got.
I mean, seriously.
Email at its core is a protocol. That's great. But we haven't achieved widespread encryption within the network (e.g. gmail reads everyone's emails).
That's the user experience problem that needs solving. Everything else is just adding complexity to something that works well anyways.
My thoughts exactly. Some of us remember Google's attempt ~10 years ago with Google Wave(I think that's what they called it) which had the exact same concept. Needless to say it failed miserably. Good idea in principle but it tried to solve a problem people didn't have. And even with the WFH shift due to the pandemic, I'd still argue that it's a problem few people have.
Email as a tool is mature and well working. Nobody denies that there could be more useful tooks when colaborating online than email. But upgrading and hence replacing or taking away email makes no sense.
Why not develop something on the side if you're not interested in investing in protocol development.
It's because as a person that makes decisions like a VC or CEO, it's easy to say yes to an integration with a company like Slack or Front, as the upcoming productivity increase of 1% may be directly atteibuted to it.
However, it's a shortsighted and unsustainable way of making business as Slack gets replaced by Front and Feont gets replaced by some post-front company.
If, in theory, they all focused on solving a human-rights issue like digital privacy, so many more people in markets could be permantently helped with.
How does it help me if they have 1.3 Bn? Or are valued at 1.3 Bn?
Generally speaking, why would I care how much they're valued at? Shouldn't I care if they solve a problem for me?
Unless what they want is my investment money, not me as a customer. In which case I worry they don't solve any problems I have...
And this article at this timing (on the same day Slack was acquired) is clearly a marketing article for this company.
They should have just owned it and said "come use our service instead of slack, now that slack is acquired", instead of throwing around the cringe worthy hype words like "slackifying email"
Seriously who pays for such a rudimentary product all that money. The pricing doesn't make any sense.
And if Front's shooting for the broader business email market, well, you have Superhuman ($30/mo) at least closer to that price range.
At that price, if it helps close 1 incremental sale a month per seat it pays for itself.
For a small support or sales team I highly recommend it and I’m looking forward to their growth and hopefully future innovation. Happy to answer more about how we used it and why I love it as a product.