Slack on Slack: A product-based approach to automating operations

Slack’s business technology team is automating tasks for sales, marketing, and other teams as part of a cultural shift to product operations.

Slack on Slack: A product-based approach to automating operations
Toa55 / Getty Images / Slack

Enterprise employees love to share messages, documents, and other information in Slack, whose software has become ground zero for collaboration at many companies. But Slack’s technology team is making it easier for its own business lines to complete more intensive tasks on the platform.

Slack, which has evolved from collaboration darling to $27.7 billion acquisition target of Salesforce.com, is using chatbots, fueled by machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence, to automate sales, help-desk, HR onboarding, and other business processes. The initiative, which garnered a 2021 US CIO 100 award, is boosting lead generation and sales cycles, while saving employees thousands of hours of manual work every month, Curt Salinas, vice president of business technology, tells CIO.com.

The evolution took root in 2019, as then CIO Stephen Franchetti led a transition from a traditional IT department focused on completing projects ordered by business teams to building products with them. Franchetti has since departed Slack, but not before IT “switched from being order takers to business partners,” Salinas says.

Slack’s cultural journey toward a product operating model that emphasizes continuous improvement is one many IT organizations are undertaking as they exit traditional project management. By 2023, 40% of enterprises will manage internal business capabilities as products to fuel innovation and competitive advantage, according to Gartner. 

From IT department to BizTech team

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