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Salesforce-Slack sales, marketing, service integrations in beta

Slack integration apps for Salesforce Service Cloud, Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud move into beta; MuleSoft takes on API management and governance.

 New Salesforce-Slack integrations for its marketing, service and sales cloud moved into beta this week, and MuleSoft plans to release API management and governance tools in the coming weeks.

Salesforce previewed its Slack apps for those three clouds late last summer, but since then has honed some features as well as added others based on user testing, said Rob Seaman, Salesforce senior vice president of product management for Slack.

Marketing Cloud for Slack supports campaign collaboration between Salesforce users and outside agencies, and also alerts sales teams in Slack when marketing campaigns generate new leads. Sales Cloud for Slack enables several kinds of collaboration channels -- those with internal account teams, those with internal account teams and external customer contacts, and "deal channels" that track individual deals as they move toward closing. Sales teams can also track forecasting within Slack.

Seaman said organizations need a central online space to meet and update each other, as the nature -- and location -- of work morphs yet again.

"More and more people are moving from fully remote to hybrid, and salespeople are now starting to do in-person meetings," Seaman said. "People are increasingly mobile and extend this hybrid world. They will actually be able to manage their pipeline, their next steps, their forecasts, et cetera, directly from within Slack from desktop or from mobile Slack."

Service Cloud for Slack features "case swarming," in which a Slack channel can be opened to solve a customer problem that needs more organizational expertise and decision-making ability than one agent might have. It's not a new idea, said Daniel Peter, Salesforce practice lead for Robots & Pencils, a consultancy. Salesforce users have been building their own case-swarming workflows for years.

Salesforce has simplified integration of that and other processes with its Slack apps, he said. It frees an organization's top-level coders to focus on more complex problems instead of maintaining simple custom apps for workflows, such as case swarming.

"It's carving away at the things that the total pro-code developers that are getting the highest salaries had to do," Peter said. "You can have a Salesforce admin or a declarative developer build in Salesforce, do some simple things -- maybe just a Slackbot to search something in Salesforce or to create a record in Salesforce. You don't need to do a whole full-on engineering exercise."

It's carving away at the things that the total pro-code developers that are getting the highest salaries had to do.
Daniel PeterSalesforce practice lead, Robots & Pencils

Peter sees Slack and Salesforce as a fit to make businesses run more efficiently as they move workflows and manual processes, such as approvals, off of email threads and into Slack. It's a better, more accessible system of record than email, which remains the status quo for many organizations, Peter said. It's also more usable than some of the alternatives, he said.

"There's some people using [Microsoft] Teams and Salesforce; we run across this," Peter said. "I'm very biased, but in my opinion [the experience is] fairly awful."

The Salesforce-Slack integrations are planned to go live in June's Summer '22 release. Other Slack apps for Salesforce clouds are in the works, including Commerce Cloud and Salesforce Industries, which offers Salesforce instances for healthcare, telecommunications and other verticals, Seaman said.

MuleSoft API management to come

Also in preview are Salesforce's MuleSoft integration platform Anypoint Flex Gateway, an API management and security tool, and Anypoint API Governance, which enables users to create governance rules and enforce them across APIs used in their organizations.

In the rush to customize their Salesforce instances and workflows with different tools (including MuleSoft), different code languages and different cloud environments, many users can quickly create APIs, said Shaun Clowes, MuleSoft senior vice president of product management. After a while, though, organizations lose track of what APIs are running and who has access to the data that flows through them, which gave rise to MuleSoft's coming tools.

"One of our customers said that they literally couldn't even tell us the number of APIs they had. They had no way to know," Clowes said. "Imagine what that feels like, to be like a massive organization with no understanding of what your exposure is, and you don't even know what's running in production in your environment."

The governance and API management tools help MuleSoft users -- whether they are Salesforce users or not -- track APIs and make sure they comply with the security, performance, compliance, scalability and reliability rules enterprise IT leaders set.

Users typically tap MuleSoft connectors to connect Salesforce to outside applications such as ERP or HR systems, Clowes said. Peter added that among his company's customers, he commonly sees users build their own integrations within Salesforce clouds, too.

"They've been saying that the 360-degree customer view has been a priority for years, and I think it's just [going to] be a bigger priority," Peter said. "Even with MuleSoft, it's still not that integrated."

While Salesforce finishes building a holistic customer view across all of its clouds, tools like MuleSoft at least give to Salesforce users an "easy button" to more quickly break data out of silos when they need it, he concluded.

Salesforce launched these product previews in conjunction with its TrailblazerDX developer conference, previously known as TrailheaDX. Salesforce also made news with product previews for Slack app development using Salesforce code sets and also new Tableau integrations. Salesforce Slack apps for the various clouds are available for no extra charge to joint Salesforce and Slack users. The Anypoint tools will likely be purchased according to the capacity model familiar to MuleSoft users, Clowes said.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.

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