When developers are looking for work or evaluating companies, it’s common to ask, “What’s your tech stack?”. Naturally, people like to stay in ecosystems of technologies or services they have experience with and enjoy. For devs, choices of programming language, PaaS provider, framework, libraries, and OS can make a significant impact on their day-to-day productivity and happiness. This is of course, is not unique to developers and engineering stacks. Marketers may stick with their preferred choice of marketing automation tools, sales reps their CRM of choice, etc.
However, as COVID has pushed many companies remote, I predict that an equally important question will become commonplace for all job seekers: “What’s your communication stack?”. Or perhaps more catchily if it becomes a thing: “What’s your commstack?”. Job seekers will increasingly see quality of communication tools as a signal for strong companies.
There are a few categories of communication tools I can think of with some examples for each:
- Email: GMail, Outlook, Superhuman
- Video Chat: Zoom, Teams, Meet
- Async Video: Loom, Jumpshare
- Chat: Slack, Teams, Jabber
- Wiki/Knowledge base: Confluence, Workplace, Notion
- Writing: Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, Notion, Roam
- Virtual Presence: Teamflow, Branch, Gather
Communication tools are of course nothing new, but it will be very interesting to see how these categories evolve with the accelerant of the pandemic. Companies and individuals are being forced to adapt in real time which will lead to innovation and adaptation. I predict new categories will emerge altogether, and eventually we will see consolidation of many of these tools as they inevitably overlap and need to communicate (hah!) with each other.
Change will happen relatively quickly as many of these tools don’t require full team adoption to be valuable. Loom is a great example of this where only one champion needs to be a creator and the viewers don’t need an account to consume the content. This could lead to strong bottom-up adoption and viral loops.
For employers, I believe we will see increasing brand differentiation, publicity, and marketing based on communication stack and philosophy as a competitive advantage. The tools a company uses in their commstack will become a signal just as prominent as their choice of programming language.
My current commstack is Superhuman, Zoom, Loom, Slack, Confluence, and the Google Suite. I strongly suspect when I look back on this post in just a year or two that list might look a bit different.
What’s your current commstack? Let me know on Twitter @eipark.