Like other recommendation systems, Highlights uses machine learning to predict the messages that will be of most interest. But the system might not always be perfect. Slack is also letting users give feedback on Highlights recommendations with a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.
In recent months Microsoft has come out with a Slack competitor called Teams, and Google has introduced its spin on Slack called Hangouts Chat. Microsoft and Google both have other services for messaging while Slack fields just one product.
Slack, which is used by big companies including Capital One and IBM, has gained traction in recent years partly because it tends to result in less internal email communication. Weiss points out that Slack is more than an alternative to email because Highlights can alert you to interesting things in channels that you might not be following.
“With email, you can’t say, ‘Hey, Jordan, there’s a really interesting email thread you’re not a part of, but if you ask Amy, maybe she can BCC you,'” Weiss said.
Weiss’s group previously introduced several updates to Slack’s search feature, including identifying the people who frequently talk about a given theme in different channels. In the future, Slack could start using its data to spot trending topics across companies and even draw attention to channels where a conversation is suddenly spiking, Weiss said.
Slack has more than 1.5 million paid users and more than 5 million daily active users.