Ceci Stallsmith, Slack’s Director of Platform Marketing, says that spotting trends and frameworks are “calculated art, not science.” In 2012, three years before she joined Slack, it was just one of many messaging apps vying for a place in the sun. “Smartphones had become mainstream. It was the moment when business apps took off on iOS and Android. It was a ‘hot’ moment. Building mobile apps,” she recalled, “was THE trend.’”
Now, Slack is preparing to go public. What did Slack do that allowed it to beat out dozens of other messaging apps such as YikYak, Mailbox, CoTap, Sunrise, Tempo, Talko? For starters, people everywhere started feeling overwhelmed by email. Second: early users – a hard-core engineering group – found the app useful and gave it a boost, causing a Slack ecosystem to quickly emerge. Third, the company reached out early to the enterprise and pulled in key partners including Salesforce, Google, SAP, ServiceNow and Oracle whose employees needed a better way to stay on top of their workflow.
But what made the trend? There are a lot of recipes out there on how to catch the next tech wave. Futurists like Paul Saffo advise mapping “cones of uncertainty.”Amy Webb, Founder of The Future Today Institute,has developed a six-point forecasting methodology that starts with looking for information at the fringe. Stallsmith has outlined her view on Medium in an article entitled The Next Major Platform.