Slack rolls out new Salesforce integrations, launches Workflow Builder

The team collaboration software vendor has also made its Workflow Builder app available following customer trial.

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Slack / Scott Webb (CC0)

Slack has added new integrations with Salesforce’s customer relationship management (CRM) and customer service apps, part of its ongoing push to bolster connections with other “best of breed” cloud apps.

The integrations are aimed at enabling better information-sharing between Salesforce and the team collaboration app, which now has 12 million daily active users. Slack now lets users search and preview Salesforce Sales Cloud and Service Cloud records such as accounts and opportunities in app by using a slash command to pull up details.

Other features include the ability to send Salesforce records relating to an account or case directly to an individual Slack user or a channel, such as #customer-support, for instance. In addition, sales and service reps using Salesforce will be able to see Slack conversations related to a Salesforce record.

“The main advantage is more seamless collaboration in the course of their sales and their service work,” said Brad Armstrong, vice president of corporate and business development at Slack.  “Salesforce cares very much about engagement with their product and sales is a very collaborative process.” 

In addition to the latest integration efforts between the two platforms there are plans to connect Slack with Salesforce Platform. Slack’s first integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud took place in 2016; it has been used by tens of thousands of teams, said Armstrong.

Partnerships are a major focus for Slack, which has more than 1,800 third-party integrations in its App Directory. It has, for example, integrations with other SaaS vendors such as Workday’s HR platform, SAP’s Concur and SuccessFactors, and various Oracle tools.  The company also announced a closer integration with Zoom at its Frontiers conference this year, all part of its  strategy to better compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google and Cisco, which sell subscriptions to a suite of apps.

“We’re working really closely with most of the relevant best-of-breed enterprise SaaS providers,” said Armstrong. “The pattern you see there is that two or three years people built their first app on Slack and it was a new thing and maybe kind of a novelty. Now, they’re reinvesting, and we're reinvesting, in those partnerships now that the platform has evolved. …The use cases are a lot more clear and the user bases in common are a lot more significant.” 

Slack has also been integrating more closely with its competitors. Earlier this year it announced a range of integrations with Microsoft’s Office 365 tools, including OneDrive and Outlook. (Microsoft’s Teams work stream collaboration application is a major rival to Slack.)

Armstrong noted that the latest move with Salesforce is another example of the company’s efforts to expand its user base to include more business users. A significant proportion of Slack’s early adoption tended to be among software developers and IT pros. 

“…Several years ago our user base was very heavily in technical and development type roles,” said Armstrong. “Increasingly, more and more sales, service and front office workers are looking at Slack as their collaboration hub as well. We see that definitely increasing down the road and that is kind of the backdrop to this investment and partnership.”

Raúl Castañón-Martínez, a senior analyst at 451 Research, said the Salesforce integration will help “expand the range of use cases beyond the technical and DevOps realm.

“This was Slack’s core audience from its early days and even though Slack has expanded its reach in the organization since then, the most compelling use cases are still with technical teams. A tighter integration with Salesforce should support its efforts to cement its presence in other areas with more compelling use cases," he said.

Workflow Builder gets full launch

Also this week, Slack announced that its Workflow Builder tool is now generally available. The feature lets all users automate routine processes; they can, for instance, create messages sent to new members of a channel, set up their own automations or select a pre-built template from Slack.  

“The ability to reduce friction and repetitive tasks now gets a bit easier,” Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC, said when the Workflow Builder beta was announced at Slack Frontiers in San Francisco earlier this year. 

“For those that are used to an ‘If This Then That’ scenario, they will able to walk in to this and see the potential uses in their work day. And because it is consumer-level simple in a business environment it means that it is not difficult to program, it is not difficult to change, it is not difficult to use, and yet it can save you a number of steps on any given project.”

Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight, noted at the time that Slack has been successful at encouraging developers to create apps. Workflow Builder is part of its effort to appeal to a wider audience of business professionals, whether in sales, marketing, HR or other parts of an organization.  

“Increasingly, what Slack wants to do is to spread the application much more widely across organizations,” she said. “[Workflow Builder] allows individuals – it doesn't matter who they are –  to be able to create their own personal workflows or teams workflows. It has opened up a whole new wave of potential for the platform.” 

It is “not just about collaborating, but getting work done and coordinating work and processes,” she said. “So I think it is much more interesting as Slack tries to spread into the organization as a whole and getting out of this pocket of IT that it has made its name from.” 

Slack will hold its second annual Spec developer conference in San Francisco Oct. 22-23.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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