Salesforce tightens Slack integration at Dreamforce

Salesforce seeks to make Slack the interface for Salesforce users to collaborate around training, sales fulfillment, coding, and more. But CIOs should beware integrated pricing plans.

Salesforce tightens Slack integration at Dreamforce
Magdalena Petrova/IDG

Just two months after closing its acquisition of Slack, Salesforce unveiled at its Dreamforce customer conference this week a series of integrations that will put the team chat service at the heart of Salesforce.com.

“We want to integrate Slack across every Salesforce cloud and every industry solution,” Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield said in a call with reporters on the eve of the event.

The company also set out a roadmap for extending its Hyperforce public cloud into new countries and announced a new video messaging function for Slack called Clips, which enables enterprise users to record and send video and audio messages to colleagues — or to Slack users in other companies through Slack Connect.

Clips and Connect

While there was a lot of eye-rolling a year ago when Oracle made its bid to acquire Tik-Tok, a project that has since been shelved indefinitely, Slack seems to think there’s business value in employees sharing takes on topics via short video messages.

The Clips platform will automatically transcribe and caption audio, so that the content becomes searchable from within Slack. Clips can be played back at variable speed, and with the search function it’s possible to jump straight to key scenes.

Butterfield said Clips could be a way to avoid the stiffness of the Monday-morning standup meeting, enabling employees to record their status updates beforehand, or to watch others’ contributions later. The flexibility this “asynchronous” messaging enables is one of its key benefits, he said.

Clips is being rolled out to the first customers during Dreamforce, and will be available to all paying customers by year-end, the company said.

Slack Connect, which enables enterprises to share messaging channels with teams in other companies, is on a roll: One year after its launch, Slack Connect is used by 91,000 of Slack’s 169,000 paying customers and, at its current growth rate, could outstrip the paying customer base in a year or so, according to the company.

That’s prompting Slack to turn its customers into evangelists for the service, allowing those on its top pricing tier, Enterprise Grid, to sponsor connections to partners that aren’t yet Slack customers at no extra cost to themselves or their partners.

Deeper Slack integration

Salesforce COO Bret Taylor said the company is also making additional Slack connections with its own and other industry products — 16 of them in all — making Slack the interface for Salesforce users to collaborate around training, sales fulfillment, coding, banking, or even healthcare.

Trailhead for Slack will use Salesforce’s existing AI-powered learning tools to deliver training materials within Slack, while Slack-First Experience will deliver content from an enterprise’s intranet to staff right in Slack. Slack-First Platform will enable low-code creation of applications and workflows in Slack.

There will also be Slack integrations with two other Salesforce acquisitions: MuleSoft (its platform for data integration) and Quip, a cloud-based collaborative office productivity challenger to Microsoft Office365 or Google Workspace, now tightly tied to Salesforce’s data platform. These will make it easier to connect business workflows to Slack using Mulesoft, and to embed Quip documents directly in Slack.

These integrations, coupled with forthcoming AI-based automation tools for Mulesoft and Salesforce Flow that the company announced last week, are about extending Salesforce’s workflow platform capabilities far beyond its CRM core, at a time when SAP (with its Business Technology Platform) and ServiceNow (with its Now Platform) are pushing (from very different directions) to be the foundations on which modern business processes are built.

The price of integration

Salesforce is likely to want to tie pricing for Slack and its CRM platform together, too, and Adam Mansfield, a practice leader at UpperEdge, a consultancy that advises enterprises on IT sourcing, warned CIOs to be wary of that as annual contract negotiations come around.

“Expect Salesforce to pitch ‘Slack-First’ solutions ahead of their renewal date,” he said. “They will focus their pitch around making the products currently being used ‘move valuable.’ I would recommend pushing Salesforce to focus on the actual additional value your organization will realize from their ‘Slack-First’ solutions.”

He recommended asking Salesforce what will happen if the promised value is not received: “Will they give you a credit and let you go back to the prior Sales Cloud solution and drop Slack without price increases?”   

Another thing CIOs need to be wary of when using software-as-a-service offerings such as Salesforce is where their data is hosted.

Increasingly strict national and state-level data protection laws limiting where customer data can be processed mean that SaaS applications and cloud platforms need to provide robust controls for managing the location of data.

Hyperforce extended to more countries

Salesforce is addressing these data residency requirements with some improvements to Hyperforce, the public cloud platform on which it deploys its Customer360 service.

Currently available in the US, India, Australia, Canada, and Japan, Hyperforce will be extended to Singapore, Brazil, Germany, and France by year-end, with the UK, South Korea, Italy, Sweden, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, and Switzerland to follow next year, Salesforce’s Taylor said. For the EU operating zone (initially Germany and France), Salesforce is committing to host all operations, including support and technical operations, in the EU to help businesses meet EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

“For multinationals, meeting the local requirements of your customers is increasingly complex; with Customer360 you can have one customer experience and meet all those requirements locally,” Taylor said.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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