In recent years, the annual Dreamforce jamboree in San Francisco has been dominated by drill-downs into major product acquisitions, most notably Tableau and Mulesoft of late. This year the focus of attention will unquestionably be Slack, whose $27.7 billion takeover was completed earlier this year. Now it’s time to demonstrate to the Salesforce faithful why that eye-watering price tag was worth it.
There’s already been a slew of Slack integrations rolled out across Sales, Service, Marketing and Analytics - see Phil’s commentary here - but today the floodgates open, with integrations added across Commerce, Experience, Platform, Trailhead, MuleSoft, and Quip, as well as Salesforce industry clouds and products such as Sustainability, Corporate and Investment Banking, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Philanthropy, Nonprofit, and Education.
According to Salesforce Chief Operating Officer Bret Taylor:
This is really Slack and Customer 360 coming together. We're bringing every product into this digital HQ. We've announced integrations with our Sales Cloud, for example, having Slack and Sales Cloud come together to enable deal rooms for sales teams, and Slack and Service Cloud enabling contact centers to leverage Slack for incident response, to find subject matter experts when a really acute issue comes up. Today we're announcing integrations with Industries, Mulesoft, Tableau and Quip. We've really integrated Slack across the entire Customer 360. I think this brings Customer 360 into this all digital, work from anywhere world.
At Dreamforce, end users, including Intuit and IKEA, will be on show to talk about their experience of using Slack, but Taylor points to a number of general proof points when he talks about:
Sales teams are closing deals 15% faster than ever before, increasing revenue by more than 26% when they use these capabilities. Customer Service teams are getting 20% faster engagement and closing resolutions three times faster. This is really what we think is the promise of this digital HQ. Even here at Salesforce since we've adopted Slack, our email is down 46%. It really is a complete transformation of the way you work.
That transformational understanding is key, he adds:
What really makes Slack powerful is that it's not just a communication tool. It's not just that email messages are now in Slack. It's truly a platform. Everything is moved into shared channels, which has just really changed the transparency at our company. We've on-boarded over 15,000 employees who have never been to a Salesforce office before. Now when they show up, all the knowledge they need to use to do their job is in searchable Slack channels, rather than trapped in other people's email inboxes. So it's real transformation for how we think about knowledge at the company.
The other thing is, we've integrated all of our applications as well. So if you have a problem with your laptop, you don't send an email, you don't go to a website, you just use a Slash command. When you want approval from a deal desk as a salesperson at Salesforce, you don't need to send an email, you use a slash command in a shared channel. Our quarter closed on Slack and it closed in Huddles [Slack’s lightweight audio calls offering].
Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack picks up the transformation angle, arguing that the COVID crisis has accelerated the pace of change here:
We moved from a world where digital technologies supplemented the in person means of communication and collaboration to the other way around. I don't know that we would have articulated it that way pre-pandemic. But once we all had to start working from anywhere and it kind of magically worked, I think that really illustrated the degree to which we've become reliant on these digital technologies and the ways to leverage them.
But the driver shouldn’t center on organizations adopting Slack as an alternative to email or phone conversations, he emphasizes, but rather about enabling a culture where information is readily accessible across channels and job functions:
For all the same reasons that channels are valuable inside the company, they're incredibly valuable across the [organizational] borders. For a complex sales process, you might have the business leader or decision maker that's ultimately driving this purchase, you have people from legal involved, you have the procurement team. Then on the other side, they don't usually just have one salesperson; it's a whole team supporting that, solutions engineers and customer success people. Having the communication happening in a channel where it's shared and accessible to all of those parties is really transformational as opposed to one-to-one emails that then have to be forwarded when people have to be caught up and you have to have a status meeting.
Clip and Connect
Other Slack-centric announcements coming out of Dreamforce will include:
- GovSlack, a version of Slack that meets the most stringent security and compliance needs of the US Government government and its agencies.
- Enhancements to Slack Connect to make it easier to use with partners who aren’t existing Slack users.
- Clips, pitched as a new way to easily create and share audio, video, and screen recordings within any channel or DM in Slack, letting people work more flexibly, on their own time. These are positioned as “an alternative to the endless stream of back-to-back meetings and a more flexible and asynchronous way of communicating”.
Of these, Clips catches the eye for a number of reasons. As Taylor comments:
I truly think that if you talk to any employee right now they'll talk about video conference fatigue. We can't just translate all the conference rooms into video conference rooms and say that we're in the new normal. That's not the way it's gonna work. You can feel it in people's fatigue right now.
We're still in the pandemic. We’re not just tired from having that camera on our face, which we're not used to, for however many hours a day, we're also massively rescheduled. The easiest means that people fall back to when they need to communicate is to schedule a meeting and it's 30 minutes and it's on video. That reduces the degree of flexibility we have and that has a huge impact on the way employees feel.
In our research with Future Forum, we've heard flexibility is number two only to compensation when people think about their satisfaction, their job and the desirability of different employment opportunities. That definitely rings true in my experience. We've made a huge effort to try to find ways to take processes that today must be synchronous and make them asynchronous. So we started with Slack Huddles, and that was launched earlier this year. It's a lightweight live audio option you can hop in and out of. The idea there is to recreate some of the spontaneity and serendipity of conversations you have with people in person when you're in the office. People are loving that. [It's had the] fastest adoption of any new capabilities.
The next step is Slack Clips:
A Clip is a way to record yourself, record your screen, record yourself on your screen and the idea there is a lot of the meetings we have don't require us - or shouldn't require us - to be together in real time. If you imagine the daily stand up meeting that happens every day from 9 to 9.30, and everyone goes around the room and gives an update - it provides a lot more flexibility, a lot more power, if I'm able to record my update at 8.56 and then listen to yours at 10.13 and have the flexibility to do all other kinds of work in between.
It also improves the return that you get on the effort that goes into that communication. Because we transcribe all the speech that happens in those videos, we make it accessible to people and we index it for search, so you can find all of that material again, record your own ideas, updates, and footage and conversation and all that can happen on your own time.
As for the extensions to Slack Connect, this is clearly a logical next step to expand the Slack footprint. Butterfield explains:
Embracing the promise of a digital HQ depends on being able to collaborate not just internally with your employees, but externally with all your customers, partners and vendors as well. Slack Connect makes that possible by bringing communication out of siloed email inboxes or SMS and WhatsApp messages and into channels so that teams can work quickly and collaboratively with everyone who touches their business. Slack Connect is a game changer for how we work. It has grown more than 200% year-on-year, just kind of explosive geometric growth that's been happening since we first launched the feature. One of the big demands we've heard is to make it even easier to use Slack and active partners who don't currently use Slack. So we're extending the power of Slack Connect and making it easier than ever to create and manage connections, even for customers and partners who don't use Slack. This is all about helping companies build their own unique digital HQ that can be home for everyone they need to collaborate with.
Digital translation is not the same thing as digital transformation. With Slack, we've really transformed the way we work into something better.
If Dreamforce attendees don’t leave this week without getting that message from Taylor firmly lodged in their minds, it won’t be for want of trying.