Slack looks further into the workplace with Enterprise Grid release

Picture credit: "Slack", by "Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta", used under CC BY SA / Modified from original 

It has rapidly become one of the most popular enterprise apps – and now Slack is hoping to double down with the release of Slack Enterprise Grid.

The new collaboration software product aims to adapt more easily to larger organisations, from centralised controls ensuring a single point of visibility to admins, to unlimited workspaces for teams, and integration with other applications including Salesforce, Adobe, and Box.

“Teams of all sizes rely on Slack today, from growing retailers like Blue Bottle Coffee to huge, multinational corporations like IBM,” an introductory blog post from the company noted. “While these companies don’t operate at the same scale or in quite the same way, they all want to empower their employees to do their best work.

“Slack should be where that work happens, regardless of a company’s size or shape, which is why we’ve carefully crafted a new enterprise-grade product to bring the power and utility of Slack to large, complex organisations,” the company added.

The company’s influence in the enterprise already cannot be underestimated. A report last month from Okta, analysing app usage from thousands of its customers, put Slack firmly in the top 10 most used enterprise applications, up from a lowly 67th two years previously. Okta described the rise as ‘nothing short of jaw-dropping’, although adding that the introduction of Microsoft Teams in November – for which Slack took out a full page ad in the New York Times – could change things.

Among the other parts of the release which formed part of the small print include a new bot partnership Slack is announcing with SAP, integrating across the German software giant’s HANA cloud platform, as well as SuccessFactors and Concur. “These bots will bring real-time reporting and feedback on performance goals, message-based expense and travel management, and options for running chatops development workflows in Slack,” the company said.

Analysis

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, enterprise mobility companies have either been encouraged by the news or see the landscape as being fraught with danger.

Representing the former is Workato, a Cupertino-based cloud automation integrator. The company works with Slack to enable workflow automation for larger customers, and according to Bhaskar Roy, Workato head of growth, the coming together of applications and not being ‘bogged down by email’ can only be a positive.

“The benefit of Slack Enterprise Grid is that companies now have the tools for stronger collaboration across the entire organisation, to integrate previously disconnected streams of information,” Roy told Enterprise AppsTech. “This offering also presents new integration and workflow automation opportunities that we are actively exploring through our partnership.”

In the other corner is Peter Yared, CTO of micro app platform provider Sapho. This view is one borne out of experience; Yared claims that Slack rarely comes up in conversation with Global 200 firms in terms of messenger integrations – it’s all about Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco. “The challenge for Slack is that offering enterprise-grade messaging is just table stakes at this point,” he said. “Vendors with long-time customer relationships and deep experience at delivering enterprise-grade software have already passed by Slack in terms of feature set.”

Roy added that enterprises thinking of taking the plunge with Slack’s enterprise-grade tool should bear in mind four steps. The first is to have a stringent plan – common sense of course, but start with what the business goal is, whether it’s to reduce email or improve departmental harmony, and go from there – while ensuring information security and compliance. Companies looking at Enterprise Grid also need to ensure all employees are trained on how to use the platform while usage must ‘start at a leadership level and [be] used consistently throughout the organisation’, Roy added.

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