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Slack update sees Salesforce’s collaboration tool fully embrace AI

The new update makes the process of automating tasks easier to complete, the company says.

By Ryan Morrison

Slack is getting a major AI upgrade as part of its next big update, according to parent company Salesforce. This includes a native AI engine to automate capabilities and a new tool called Slack Lists to make it easier to track work and triage requests across projects.

The new update includes an automation hub for creating custom automations including sales reports and feedback based on real data (Photo: Salesforce)
The new update includes an automation hub for creating custom automations including sales reports and feedback based on real data. (Photo via Salesforce)

The announcement of Slack AI comes off the back of a major redesign of the platform that included bringing multiple workspaces into a single view. Salesforce says this new update adds more automation and new ways of working to speed up access to data.

Since the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and the subsequent AI revolution, Salesforce has gone all in on artificial intelligence. This includes integrating generative AI throughout its own platform, working with third-party labs to integrate chatbot tools and updating Slack. 

Until now most of the AI integration in Slack has been through third parties, such as a ChatGPT plugin or transcription services, but the new Slack AI is native and fully integrated throughout, according to its developers.

The Slack AI is “grounded in a company’s collective knowledge found in Slack” and will allow for channel recaps to provide highlights on a channel rather than read all the posts, summarise a thread or improve search by providing natural language answers.  

The update to Slack comes off the back of a new Salesforce generative AI research project that found that nearly six in ten users believe they are on their way to mastering the technology, particularly around its ability to automate work tasks or distil complex ideas. Nearly half said they would also use it more if it was integrated more closely into the technology and services they already use every day.

Automation and workflow

One of the main areas of focus for the new AI integration has been on automating as much of the workflow as possible. This includes allowing end users to create custom workflows without having to write any code through Workflow Builder. It includes third-party integrations with Google, Atlassian and Asana, allowing for multiple tools inside a single workflow. It also extends out to Salesforce Flow for an “IT-approved” way to customise Slack using approved Salesforce automation.

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Launched in 2014, Slack started life as a simple messaging app for small teams and organisations but it has evolved into an enterprise workspace. At the time of the last major update, Salesforce described it as an “indispensable productivity platform” and this new update includes the moniker “intelligence productivity platform”. Its biggest rival is Microsoft’s Teams, which has stolen a march on Slack by virtue of being bundled with every Office 365 subscription.

Other major changes include Slack Lists with improved project tracking, allowing users to assign owners and update the status from one view and managing project launches. Noah Desai Weiss, chief product officer at Slack, said in a statement: “We are focused on providing customers with a simpler, more delightful, and more efficient set of tools so every person can do the best work of their lives.”

Salesforce says Slack Lists will launch this winter and be widely available next year, Slack AI will pilot this winter with a more widespread rollout after the pilot and the Workflow Builder is already available on paid plans.

“How we work is rapidly evolving and is highly reliant on our ability to effectively evolve and adopt new technologies,” said Wayne Kurtzman, vice-president of social, communities and collaboration at analyst company IDC. “Slack continues to evolve with new, more intelligent tools and ways of working that drive alignment, streamline efficiency and boost productivity for teams across the business.”

Read more: Salesforce gives Slack enterprise-focused redesign

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