Slack app integrations are made a two-way street

Slack has designed a shortcut to convert Slack messages into content within business tools like Zendesk and Jira. The company said more than 90% of paid teams are using Slack app integrations.

Slack has introduced a new way to use the third-party apps that have been integrated with its platform. The feature lets users convert Slack messages into content within those business tools -- without leaving the Slack interface.

The integration of business apps with team collaboration platforms has mostly focused on bringing data from those tools into the messaging interface, reducing the need to toggle between clients.

Now, Slack is giving users the ability to send information in the other direction. Using the new shortcut, a user could click on a Slack message and use it to create or amend a support ticket in Zendesk, for example, automatically pulling the content from the messaging thread into the customer relationship management client.

Slack partnered with a handful of cloud software vendors in launching the new feature, called Actions, this week, including Jira, Asana, Bitbucket, Zendesk and HubSpot. The company has given all developers access to the code needed to add the same feature to their own Slack app integrations.

Team collaboration apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams need to facilitate more than just messaging in order to win long-term customers, said Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif.

"Slack's new integrated actions is a good step in ensuring people can actually get work done inside a messaging stream and now take those conversations outside of Slack into business applications," Lepofsky said.

Slack held its first developer conference this week in San Francisco, where it also announced that the Slack Fund -- an initiative to invest in startups developing products that improve Slack -- had invested in six additional companies: Aptly, Clara, Learnmetrics, PullRequest, Zylo and Epistema.

Slack seeks to maintain integration advantage

Slack unveiled a preview this week of a new developer toolkit for building visually rich, interactive interfaces to accompany Slack app integrations. Block Kit, which is expected to be released later this year, provides prebuilt designs for interactive calendars, drop-down menus and action items.

The vendor also announced it was giving IT administrators within large enterprises the ability to deploy apps more easily. Businesses using Slack's Enterprise Grid product will soon be able to install and oversee Slack app integrations across an entire organization, rather than having to manage those deployments workspace by workspace.

More than 90% of Slack's 70,000 paid teams  use third-party apps and integrations on a weekly basis, the company said. And the majority of those customers have built their own Slack app integrations, with about 15,000 internal integrations launching every week.

With 1,500 apps in its directory, Slack integrates with far more third-party business tools than any other team collaboration app on the market today. Rather than try to add more native finicalities to its platform, Slack has chosen to focus on making its integrations more useful.

Unified communications competitors Microsoft and Cisco have slightly different sales pitches than Slack for their team collaboration products. Microsoft has stressed the tight relationship between Microsoft Teams and Office 365, while Cisco recently rebuilt its team collaboration app on the foundation of its web conferencing platform, Webex.

"The more [Slack] can do to make these application integrations easier, more useful, richer, that helps the story of allowing people to get more and more of their work done in Slack," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

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