How DevOps, agile spurred Slack enterprise adoption

Clint Boulton

None of these proved all that effective for intra-team and team-to-team collaboration, which has proven crucial in a digital age where rapid development cycles and rapid response are required to support innovation, says Gartner analyst Mike Gotta. He says the capability to permit teams to work together dynamically is "where the water is boiling" in the collaboration market.

Gotta says that Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems and others are still figuring out different approaches to team-centric productivity paradigm that Gartner calls "workstream collaboration." This model requires a conversation fabric seamlessly woven across teams in an enterprise.

Bots will automate business processes

Apart from Enterprise Grid's silo-busting features, Manry says that another reason why Slack resonates is that it more closely resembles the communications capabilities popularized in consumer technologies. Facebook Messenger, Tencent's WeChat, SnapChat and other tools have ushered in messaging features, including chatbots, which millennial generation employees expect to use in their corporate workflow. "The shift is happening because of the interaction that people are having with technology in their personal and consumer lives," Manry says.

Chatbots are pre-programmed to jump into a conversation and trigger a business process based on context and policy. Slack is working with several vendors to build corporate bots. It just forged a new partnership with SAP to build bots that provide real-time reporting and feedback on performance goals, message-based expense and travel management, and chatops development workflows.

A Slack user of SAP's Concur app, for example, could book travel without ever leaving Slack. Today, you would initiate a conversation with the travel bot but in the future the bot may infer, based on a direct messaging exchange from one colleague, that you are planning a trip and offer to book flights and lodging for you.

SAP’s bet on a relatively young company highlights the interest in using software to automate tedious tasks. “They’re trying to go where their customers want to be and spend their time instead of forcing them to use some of the older software interfaces that they had,” says Noah Weiss, head of Slack's Search, Learning, and Intelligence group.

Take the bot orchestration concept and multiply it across every business process imaginable in an enterprise and you've got a team-level virtual assistant that Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has called the company's holy grail. “That is the knowledge worker equivalent of giving a ditch digger a backhoe instead of a shovel," Butterfield told CIO.com last year.

Manry says she would welcome such a technology, which would "automate the routine aspects of our daily lives so we can focus on what is most important." For now Manry says she expects Capital One programmers will create a lot of Slack bots and expects the company will continue integration with vendors such as SAP.

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