Over the next year, Salesforce will make good on its claims that Slack will become the interface for Salesforce -- or, at the least, a new collaboration environment.
Salesforce acquired Slack for $27.7 billion last December and previewed three initial Salesforce-Slack integrations for sales, customer service and marketing last month. At its Dreamforce user conference, Salesforce today increased those integrations to a total of 16. Some have features that are available now, with most to come between now and the end of 2022.
Some of the Slack integrations are very narrowly focused on vertical industries, such as investment banking, nonprofits, Philanthropy Cloud, healthcare and education. But others, such as Digital Deal Rooms for sales and Case Swarming for customer service, cut a wide swath across industries.
Features such Slack Clips enable all Salesforce cloud users to create, share, and consume video and audio content across channels. Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield suggested that Slack Clips could replace the daily or weekly round-robin team status meeting where each attendee gives an update on what they're working on; instead, attendees can catch up asynchronously and watch the clips on their own.
Salesforce president and COO Bret Taylor said the Slack integrations are how Salesforce will enable users to have a digital headquarters in a time when remote work remains the norm. Salespeople are taking more meetings because they are traveling less, and teams are collaborating digitally whether they like it or not. Salesforce itself has onboarded 15,000 new employees since the pandemic began, and those new employees have never been to a Salesforce office, Taylor said.
"I've started two companies in my life, and I always started by picking out my office space," Taylor said in a press conference. "In this new world, you don't start with your physical HQ, you start it with a digital infrastructure. You need to connect your employees, your partners and your customers because that's become more important than our physical HQ."
Einstein's secret weapon
Taken together, the new features are Salesforce's way of building its AI graph, said Constellation Research founder R "Ray" Wang. With team messaging activity, documentation, and even contact with outside customers and partners through Slack Connect, these Salesforce-Slack integrations will help tune up Einstein AI features to offer users more salient insights into the various Salesforce clouds.
"You build the AI through the interactions," Wang said. "Using Slack builds the business graph to improve Salesforce's ability to make predictions and get better at AI. If you don't have that data at scale, it doesn't work -- that's why you have to connect all the clouds."
Some of the many new Salesforce-Slack integration features revealed today include:
- B2C Commerce Alerts in Slack enable Commerce Cloud users to stay ahead of business trends with automatic alerts directly in Slack for their company's promotions, certificates, price books, campaigns, and coupons. It is available now.
- Order Management Exception Alerts in Slack, available later this year, help commerce teams resolve problems quickly by automatically alerting teams to order problems.
- Salesforce CMS Integration for Slack enables alerts for relevant internal and external teams when new content is published. Sales and marketing teams can preview and more easily distribute content to maximize return. It is due out in spring 2022.
- Flow for Slack will bring the Salesforce Flow tool to Slack and enable teams to create workflows to route approvals through multiple internal and external stakeholders when it becomes available in summer 2022.
- App Builder for Slack will enable teams to build apps that surface Salesforce data directly in Slack. It is due out in summer 2022.
Email use halved inside Salesforce
Salesforce used itself as a test bed for the Slack integrations. Inside Salesforce, emails are down 46% since January as it moved collaboration workflows into Slack, the company claimed. Salesforce employees conducted 230,000 Slack Huddles, or quick meetings in Slack, in the 30 days preceding August 17.
Will Slack kill email or phone conversations channels, especially for sales? Butterfield doesn't think so, although where the data is stored makes a difference. Many Salesforce users employ selling teams that sell into companies with buying teams, and retaining data on the complex interactions between these teams becomes essential to close deals.
"It isn't so much taking share away from email or phone conversations, but having the information accessible," Butterfield said. "For all the same reasons that channels are valuable inside the company, they're incredibly valuable across the borders.
"Having the communication happening in a channel where it's stored and accessible to all parties is really transformational as opposed to one-to-one emails that have to be forwarded," he said.
Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.