Looking back and thinking ahead: Slack’s growth in Asia

Recent awards inspire gratitude, but there’s plenty more work to be done

By the team at SlackOctober 16th, 2019Illustration by Patrick Leger

Milestones hold a special meaning for everyone. They’re how we mark the rhythm of life.

They’re also the framework upon which we think about past progress and future success. What have we accomplished? What are we striving for next?

The team at Slack is no different. As we look ahead to the two-year anniversary of offering Slack in the Japanese language—launched Nov. 17, 2017—and further ahead to the four-year anniversary of the first Slack Asia-Pacific office, we thought we’d take some time to celebrate and reflect.

Taking a competitive view

We recently learned Slack ranked No. 1 for the G2 Asia Internal Communications Software Award and No. 3 for all software, representing a range of tech. Exciting news, but what energized the team the most was that these rankings were based on user sentiment—the experiences of our customers. In fact, our 90% user satisfaction score handily beat that of Microsoft Teams (71%), further reinforcing that not all daily active users are created equal.

It’s motivating company to keep, as you can see from the overall top 25 list of global vendors in Asia Pacific in the full G2 report. This tighter geographic focus is an important one. Customer service shouldn’t vary depending on the country in which you live and work.

‘Great potential for the future’

When we set out to create Slack, the focus wasn’t solely on making collaboration software for the enterprise. We wanted to make something beautiful, something engaging—something people actually want to use. This is now a basic expectation in the world of consumer apps, but until recently was a rare experience in enterprise software.

Our user-first ethos was recently honored by Good Design Award Japan, which recognized Slack for our empathetic approach to software design.

Here’s what the evaluators said: “[Slack] offers a new business communication tool that allows anyone in need to freely access necessary information by bringing people, data and application management together. In addition to the implementation worldwide, what left a striking impression is the user-first stance. Taking a flexible approach in responding to the users’ feedback, the company is set up to always improve upon the application, suggesting a great potential for the future.”

We are grateful to Good Design Award for the honor and for promoting what it calls “society-leading good design” across so many sectors, not just software. We are humbled that our software was able to cross cultural boundaries and still be recognized.

Nothing, if not for our customers

Again, awards are wonderful, but helping our customers grow across this region is where we get the most satisfaction. After all, it’s a complex and ever-evolving world out there, and Asia is a diverse part of that world that can sometimes be hard to navigate.

Our customers, too, are grappling with the pressures of growth and innovation in a fully globalized, complex economy. We strive to make this journey easier for everyone, regardless of business unit or industry.

In Australia, we salute RMIT, an academic powerhouse serving 87,000 students each year from more than 100 countries, and REA Group, a global online real estate advertising company for which Slack is helping accelerate a focus on innovation and employee engagement.

In Japan, NIKKEI and Sansan are deriving similar value from Slack.

Sansan’s more than 300 engineers use Slack as a core development and monitoring tool by integrating best-of-breed apps directly into our platform. This streamlines operations and reduces time spent context-switching between different software.

At NIKKEI, Slack powers business planning, promotion and marketing, with roughly 70% of the Slack-based conversations happening in public channels, which reinforces core values like transparency and engagement.

What else have we learned?

For one, it truly takes a village to be successful … and that village is local with regional knowledge. Together, our Melbourne, Sydney, Pune and Tokyo offices are around 140 strong. That’s 56 employees in Australia, more than 30 in India and close to 50 in Japan. These are neighbors and friends striving to make your work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive. Among them, you’ll find a diverse set of roles, from our friendly office support staff, to product development, to local sales and customer success representatives who understand the real world in which your business operates.

What else does it take to be successful? Engagement. (We knew this one all along!)

In September 2019, we exceeded 12 million people actively using Slack every day—up approximately 37% year over year. Of those 12 million, we hit a record of 1.28 million daily active users in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. That’s out of 16,000 customers, including Japan!

More and more, people are moving away from email and into channels, but it’s deep engagement that is fundamental to realizing the transformational benefits of this shift. After all, what good is software that no one wants to use? It’s usage like yours that keep people adopting and using Slack, making it a richer, more valuable experience. Slack recently shared that our users take more than 5 billion actions on Slack during a typical workweek. And that this level of interaction is supported by nearly 600,000 daily active registered developers, eagerly designing useful and engaging experiences.

What’s next?

Simply put, more investment in Asia.

We just wrapped up Frontiers Tour Tokyo, featuring key product announcements and customers. Over 600 industry leaders and technologists joined us at Toranomon Hills Forum in Tokyo to discover new ways of working. We heard valuable insights and lessons learned from Slack customers, including Infobahn, Monet Technologies, NIKKEI and Mercari. And this month we kick off our Slack Platform Asia Tour of 10 cities.

Next, look out for more news on our data residency roadmap. While things may change, we’re eager to roll out new data regions in Japan and Australia, currently planned for the first quarter of 2020. (Please avoid making any purchasing decisions based on future-facing statements such as this).

In all, we look forward to helping you, your team and your business thrive.


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