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October 26, 2016updated 07 Nov 2016 2:34pm

Slack developers to get Artificial Intelligence in Conversation with IBM Watson

Huge boon for developers as Slack ties up with IBM artificial intelligence platform

By Sam

Slack is bringing IBM artificial intelligence to its platform which will give developers and enterprise users easy access to Conversation, Sentiment Analysis or speech APIs – to build powerful tools for the platform through cognitive functionality.

Drawing on the power of Slack’s digital workplace and the cognitive computing capabilities of Watson, developers will be able to create more offerings — including bots and other conversational inferences  — that will transform the platform’s user experience.

David Kenny, general manager, IBM Watson, said: “Slack and IBM share the same vision for how Ai can transform workplace efficiency, and we recognize the important role developers are playing as they tap into cognitive technology to improve this part of our lives.” said “By combining Slack’s digital workplace capabilities and Watson’s cognitive computing power, one of our first steps is to make it easier for developers to build cognitive-enabled bots and solutions for the Slack platform. From there, we think there will be many more ways we can collaborate and help propel productivity in new ways.”

Watson, powered by IBM POWER7, is a work-load optimized system that can answer questions posed in natural language over a nearly unlimited range of knowledge.

Watson, powered by IBM POWER7, is a work-load optimized system that can answer questions posed in natural language over a nearly unlimited range of knowledge.

“Slack offers unprecedented internal transparency to organizations of all sizes around the world. As an increasing number of functional teams — from finance, customer support and HR, to recruiting, marketing and sales — have integrated their workflows into Slack, the degree of leverage we can gain from enhanced cognitive capabilities becomes massive,” said Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of Slack. “We want Slack to become better and smarter the more you use it. We want to make it simpler for people to keep up with the most important conversations and to supercharge their ability to find fast answers. This partnership with IBM and the work we are doing with Watson, will accelerate our customers’ organizational intelligence and propel workplace productivity in dramatic new ways.”

In the first instance IBM and Slack will develop a new communications tools for users of the Slack platform, including an updated Slackbot to be powered by Watson and an IBM Watson-enabled bot for IT and network operations.

IBM and Slack will share learnings from the creation of these tools with developers as part of ongoing educational efforts, and the companies plan to offer specialized tutorial resources to accelerate how developers can tap into Watson.

The deal covers:

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Slack and Watson Conversation for Slackbot

To further strengthen the Slack user experience, Slack intends to adopt Watson Conversation as a technology that helps power its Slackbot — the platform’s popular customer service bot. This integration will improve the accuracy and efficiency of trouble-shooting on the platform. Since the tool uses Watson machine learning, it can become more accurate over time.

slackslack-bot-usersWatson-Enabled Bot for IT and Network Operations:

IBM is building a Watson-enabled Slack chatbot for IT and network operational incidents, so enterprise teams can more efficiently identify, address and fix these issues. The solution provides conversational interactions and resolution recommendations between a Slack channel and traditional Cloud, IT, and Network Operations tools. Once a team integrates it, users will no longer toggle between communications tools and resources to resolve an issue, as the bot centralizes trouble-shooting in one channel.

Because of Watson’s machine learning technology, as the bot gathers data from previous conversations, it can more quickly and accurately address similar issues over time. Primary users of the tool will be subject matter experts, developers, engineers and application owners involved in supporting complex technology and application environments.

IBM Professionals Use Slack for Solutions Development

In tandem with this collaboration, a number of IBM groups are tapping into Slack. Teams such as marketing, design, and engineering have begun using the technology as part of their work to create new cognitive solutions that can be used on the Slack platform. They will also make their learnings from building these solutions available to developers.

IBM and Slack will Offer Onboarding Resources for Developers

IBM and Slack will offer tools that make it easier for developers to integrate into Slack. IBM will release a Botkit Watson middleware plugin that allows the Watson Conversation service to talk to Slack and other messaging channels. The plugin will be made available on Github for easy access. Additionally, the companies will offer an Application Starter Kit that provides resources to developers for getting started, such as code and step-by-step instructions for building on the Slack platform.

Slack raised $200m giving it a valuation of $3.8bn in April 2016. The firm is one of the most high profile Unicorns coming from Silicon Valley. 


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