It's easy to forget, but Salesforce bought Slack at the end of last year for almost $28 billion, a deal that has yet to close. We don't know exactly when that will happen, but Slack continues to develop its product roadmap adding new functionality, even while waiting to become part of Salesforce eventually.
Just this morning, the company made official some new tools it had been talking about for some time, including a new voice tool called Slack Huddles, which is available starting today, along with video messaging and a directory service called Slack Atlas.
These tools enhance the functionality of the platform in ways that should prove useful as it becomes part of Salesforce whenever that happens. It's not hard to envision how integrating Huddles or the video tools (or even Slack Atlas for both internal and external company organizational views) could work when integrated into the Salesforce platform.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield says the companies aren't working together yet because of regulatory limits on communications, but he could definitely see how these tools could work in tandem with Salesforce Service Cloud and Sales Cloud among others and how you can start to merge the data in Salesforce with Slack's communications capabilities.
"[There's] this excitement around workflows from the big system of record [in Salesforce] into the communication [in Slack] and having the data show up where the conversations are happening. And I think there's a lot of potential here for leveraging these indirectly in customer interactions, whether that's sales, marketing, support or whatever," he said.
He said that he could also see Salesforce taking advantage of Slack Connect, a capability introduced last year that enables companies to communicate with people outside the company.
"We have all this stuff working inside of Slack Connect, and you get all the same benefits that you would get using Huddles to properly start a conversation, solve some problem or use video as a better way of communicating with [customers]," he said.
These announcements seem to fall into two main categories: the future of work and in the context of the acquisition. Bret Taylor, Salesforce president and COO certainly seemed to recognize that when discussing the deal with TechCrunch when it was announced back in December. He sees the two companies directly addressing the changing face of work:
“When we say we really want Slack to be this next generation interface for Customer 360, what we mean is we’re pulling together all these systems. How do you rally your teams around these systems in this digital work-anywhere world that we’re in right now where these teams are distributed and collaboration is more important than ever,” Taylor said.
Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials says that there is clearly a future of work angle at play as the two companies come together. "I think moves like [today's Slack announcements] are in response to where things are trending with respect to the future of work as we all find ourselves spending an increasing amount of time in front of webcams and microphones in our home offices meeting and collaborating with others," he said.
Huddles is an example of how the company is trying to fix that screen fatigue from too many meetings or typing our thoughts. "This kind of 'audio-first' capability takes the emphasis off trying to type what we mean in the way we think will get the point across to just being able to say it without the additional effort to make it look right," he said.
Leary added, "And not only will it allow people to just speak, but also allows us to get a better understanding of the sentiment and emotion that also comes with speaking to people and not having to guess what the intent/emotion is behind the text in a chat."
As Karissa Bell pointed out on Engadget, Huddles also works like Discord's chat feature in a business context, which could have great utility for Salesforce tools when it's integrated with the Salesforce platform
While the regulatory machinations grind on, Slack continues to develop its platform and products. It will of course continue to operate as a stand-lone company, even when the mega deal finally closes, but there will certainly be plenty of cross-platform integrations.
Even if executives can't discuss what those integrations could look like openly, there has to be a lot of excitement at Salesforce and Slack about the possibilities that these new tools bring to the table -- and to the future of work in general -- whenever the deal crosses the finish line.