How do you find someone in an organization who can answer a burning question? That’s what Slack is trying to answer with an update to its search feature that was released for larger teams on Wednesday.
Users who search on topics, such as hiring procedures or sales contracts, will see a bubble pop up in the search results that highlights relevant users and channels for that topic. It’s designed to keep employees from wasting time navigating their companies.
Improved search is important for Slack, which faces growing competition from rivals like Microsoft and Google. Microsoft Teams already has a bot that’s supposed to make it easier for users to find coworkers to answer questions.
Slack's new feature is available worldwide for people who are a part of paid teams with more than 50 participants. It’s restricted to larger teams in part because smaller groups of users will probably know everyone they can chat with, said Slack Product Manager Isaiah Greene.
People who want to make sure their private discussions stay private don’t need to worry about this search feature. It only associates users with topics they discuss in public channels. That means people won’t be labeled as coffee experts unless they discuss that publicly within a team.
Teams shouldn’t expect the search feature to magically start working from a blank canvas. They need to have some public message history before it can start delivering insights about relevant people and channels, Green said. After it starts working, the search feature is designed to get smarter over time as more people use it.
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