Traci Whetzel, our Salesforce practice lead, explains what Salesforce’s recent acquisition of collaboration hub Slack means for future users of the customer relationship management (CRM) giant.
We’ve all heard the clichés of “new normal.” I have been guilty of using this term in previous blog posts myself. However, what was once new normal is now, simply, normal.
Before COVID, when I told people I work from home, they viewed it as a luxury. Now, it’s just something that one does. The statistics surrounding the new number of remote workers are staggering. Several studies and articles have reported that more than 40 percent of the U.S. labor force now works from home full time.
Big Tech is capitalizing on companies and schools that are now asking their employees and their students to work from home. Zoom, the video conferencing giant, saw quarterly revenue increases of 350 percent. Microsoft Teams has grown its user base by 115 percent since last April, and other platforms that promote managing a remote workforce have also seen significant growth. Organizations that needed to deploy a digital workforce quickly did so using these popular tools.
Other types of Big Tech are thriving, too. Salesforce, the number-one CRM platform, recently reported one of its best quarters to date. The week of December 14, 2020, marks the start of virtual sessions for the company’s Dreamforce conference. The world’s largest tech conference, Dreamforce typically boasts 170,000 registrants flooding the streets of San Francisco. This year, remote technology is bringing Dreamforce to the Salesforce community and beyond across the globe. From the comfort of your couch or home office, you can learn about Salesforce’s ever-expanding platform, which now includes Slack.
What Is Slack?
Slack defines itself as a collaboration hub that brings the right people, information and tools together to get work done. It provides companies such as Target, Uber and Oracle with a tool that allows their employees to chat, video conference, centrally store files, automate tasks and integrate with industry-leading tools such as Salesforce.
Slack’s core features include:
- Custom notifications and do not disturb
- Secure encryption end-to-end
- Integrations with hundreds of leading tools
- Guest access and shared channels (for external chat)
- Audio and video conferencing
- Screen and file sharing
- One-on-one or group conversations.
What Does Salesforce’s Slack Acquisition Mean?
Salesforce’s acquisition of Chatter several years ago did not take off as expected. Organizations struggled to use Chatter to connect internal and external users. In my opinion, Salesforce did not sufficiently market Chatter’s capability to collaborate on important records such as leads, accounts and opportunities directly from the record. Skype and Slack slowly started to take over the messaging and collaboration space, leaving the well-intentioned Chatter with an identity crisis.
Additionally, the organization purchased Quip, an online collaboration tool with the feel of Google Docs, but with better organization and integration capabilities. Salesforce has marketed Quip well, especially since the global pandemic, and it has impressive features. But Quip is competing against Microsoft Teams, which offers similar features and easily integrates with the Microsoft solutions that most of us use daily.
The Slack acquisition means that Salesforce is throwing its hat in the ring to compete with Microsoft Teams, shortly after announcing that Salesforce is partnering with Microsoft to extend the collaboration between Salesforce and Microsoft Teams.
Slack users have cited performance issues and reported its video conferencing solution is unstable. It appears that Slack has, instead, relied on a strong integration with Zoom and opted to focus on its strong collaboration and integration features, including Zoom’s easy-to-use solution that can connect users without a software download. Perhaps Zoom will be next on Salesforce’s radar? That acquisition would most likely mean another record-setting purchase, and it would undoubtedly elevate the Salesforce platform yet again.
Salesforce focuses on customer 360, a single view of your customer. Salesforce’s goal is to provide a platform that supports an organization’s need to recognize data to make informed and quick decisions centrally.
What Could the Slack Acquisition Look Like for a Customer?
Together, Slack and Salesforce will deliver a diverse portfolio of collaboration tools. However, the partnership will also enable Salesforce to derive more value from its previous acquisitions of Chatter and Quip while leveraging its already strong relationships with advanced analytics and integrations platforms. Here’s a breakdown of how customers could use the tools:
- Salesforce for traditional Sales and Service Management, along with industry-leading solutions for sectors such as non-profit, healthcare, financial services, insurance, manufacturing and more
- Quip for document collaboration, account planning and project management
- Chatter for in-tool collaboration on important records
- Slack for chat, channel management and video conferencing
- Tableau for advanced analytics
- MuleSoft or Heroku to bring it all together.
What Does an Architect Think?
Chris Martinez, one of Centric’s principal architects, recently attended his first Dreamforce keynote. He stated he had mixed thoughts when he first heard of the purchase. Chris said, “On one hand, I always thought Slack was great because it was independent and worked well with many tools. How will Salesforce balance that independence? However, I then thought about the possibilities of leveraging Slack within the Salesforce environment and realized how much of a game-changer this could be for developing Salesforce applications. Imagine taking the Salesforce platform’s power, add in collaboration with Slack, API integration with MuleSoft, and visualization with Tableau. Now you have a world-class enterprise application platform and with the recent announcement of Hyperforce, it blows my mind.”
What Does the Future Hold?
Over the next week, we will hear more about Salesforce’s plans for Slack during Dreamforce sessions and keynotes. Obviously, it will guard those plans with a safe harbor statement, but knowing Salesforce, the company will likely extend Slack throughout the platform. We are starting to see Salesforce incorporating last year’s acquisition of Tableau into the fold, using what was formerly known as Einstein Analytics as Tableau CRM.
For Slack, I’m eager to see how Salesforce improves or incorporates its video conferencing capabilities. How will Salesforce use Slack’s already impressive channel and integration features to tie into record-level data? How can the user use data in Tableau and now Tableau CRM? The possibilities are truly endless because Slack and Salesforce are so versatile.
Even though 2020 has been a year of challenges, it’s also exciting for us in the technology space. We have a new way of working, and technology keeps up. Salesforce’s purchase shows how willing they are to provide solutions for companies small and large.