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Salesforce’s bid to make Slack your ‘digital HQ’

Peter Griffin, Editor. 21 September 2022, 2:19 am

It’s the online tool used by 10 million people each day for messaging and collaboration on everything from software development projects to sales pitches.

But Slack, by its creators' own admission, has to date largely been predominantly for “linear, real-time collaboration within channels”.

Its chief rival, Microsoft Teams, has evolved from a messaging and conferencing tool to become a place for collaboration on documents, presentations and applications. Teams has effectively become the place where Microsoft users in the enterprise space increasingly do their work.

With Slack canvas, launched today at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, the company is taking a similar approach, moving beyond messaging to feature all of the apps and digital materials workers need to have at their fingertips.

Automated workflows

Slack canvas, which will be available from next year, debuts as a permanent place within Slack to capture important information such as account plants, executive briefing documents and team contacts.

It can also feature a curates list of channels teams need to be able to quickly reference to work on an account or project. Common workflows can be embedded and automated on a Slack canvas, which can also serve as a hub to access information drawn from Salesforce Sales Cloud, which businesses all over the world use to manage customer accounts and sales leads.

“We’re focusing on helping our customers navigate the future of work, whether that’s hybrid, remote or in the office”, says Tamar Yehoshua, Chief Product Officer at Slack.

“We’ve been introducing capabilities like Slack Connect, clips, huddles and now canvas, that bring more value to our customers and enhance working in a digital HQ.”

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Surfacing sales data - the new Slack canvas

Customer relationship management (CRM) specialist Salesforce last year completed its US$27.7 billion acquisition of Slack and has been busy integrating its customer data platform Salesforce Customer 360 into Slack to allow customer data from across an organisation to be used on the platform.

While the acquisition price for Slack raised eyebrows with many market commentators, Slack has given Salesforce an opportunity to apply modern digital working practices with the traditionally clunky world of customer relationship management that is so critical to virtually every organisation, businesses, non-profits and government agencies alike.

While general Slack users will likely see value in the role Slack canvas plays as a digital dashboard, it is being pitched particularly at sales teams. For instance, a company bringing on new sales agents can set up a Slack canvas for them featuring training videos, backgrounder documents, suggested channels to join and automated workflows to complete tasks.

Data can then be integrated from Salesforce Service Cloud into Tableau dashboards, giving a sales person a snapshot of a customer’s current status and case history. In the same way that Microsoft encourages users to access data from Sharepoint, Excel and Dynamics in Teams, Salesforce is nudging salespeople towards working on their sales and marketing campaigns and managing customer relationships in Slack.

Have a huddle

Other Slack enhancements today follow the same theme. Slack huddles, the audio-centric communication tool designed to allow team members to have a quick chat about a project, now gets a lightweight video, multi-person screen sharing and persistent message threads down the right side of a huddle. That may encourage Slack users who either duck out of the platform to make Zoom or Google Meet calls or use a third-party app from within Slack, to do more of their communication within the Slack environment.

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Video and screen sharing come to Slack huddles

Keen to ramp up the automated workflows that will be available with the new canvas feature, Slack is making available developer tools with modular, reusable blocks that can be used to build a workflow quickly. A number of Slack-certified consulting partners, Accenture, CapGemini and Deloitte among them, will be launching workflows to work with Slack canvas across a range of industries.

Peter Griffin attended Dreamforce 2022 as a guest of Salesforce. He will be reporting from the conference throughout the week.


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