In anticipation that working in the office will never look the same again, Slack has introduced new capabilities tailored for hybrid working and the "digital HQ".
According to Slack product VP Noah Weiss, there has been "overwhelming" customer feedback about needing to recreate an office environment in a hybrid world.
"What everyone is looking for when I talk to customers is how do I go from a world where my headquarters used to be on Wall Street, or Howard Street if I was Slack, or Mission Street if it was Salesforce," he told ZDNet.
"I need a new street, and that street has to be virtual, and it has to be this digital HQ, where I can bring my employees, my customers, my partners [into] all this shared digital space, so they can work together."
One of these new features is Slack Clips, which will allow users to create and share audio, video, and screen recordings within any channel or DM in Slack, as an alternative to just sending a message.
Users on the receiving end will be able to playback the clips on their own time, speed up or slow down the content, watch with live captions, or open a transcript version of the conversation. They will also be able to respond with a medium of their choice: Text, audio, or video.
Slack said it is also expanding Slack Connect by allowing its enterprise customers to create "sponsored connections" by inviting and hosting anyone in Slack, without requiring them to be on a paid Slack plan themselves.
Weiss likens the way Slack Connect sponsored connections would work to how DocuSign is used.
"If you're a DocuSign customer, you can make sure that anyone you send a DocuSign to, they can sign a contract or download it for themselves, but if you want to create your own DocuSign that people can sign digitally or certify, you'd then obviously have to pay for that," he said.
"The idea here is really for our biggest enterprise customers. It should be a brain-dead decision to bring all of their customers onto Slack Connect because they then can provide better, faster, and more responsive service, support, sales, account management, and so on."
Both Slack Clips and Slack Connect sponsored connections will be generally available in fall 2021.
Additionally, the company is set to introduce a version of Slack specifically for government called GovSlack. Unlike the usual version of Slack, GovSlack will run on Amazon Web Services GovCloud, so it's compliant with security and operational requirements of the US government, including FedRAMP High and DoD IL4 certifications.
GovSlack is due for launch sometime next year and will only be available in the United States for now. Weiss said the company would explore expansion opportunities for GovSlack in the future.
The announcement follows Salesforce's launching its first integrations with Slack across its clouds and Customer 360 in August. This included the launch of Slack-First Customer 360, which aims to allow enterprises to collaborate and streamline workflows with one view of the customer.
The deal, which cost Salesforce $27.7 billion, was finalised in July.
As Salesforce product management SVP Rob Seaman puts it, the acquisition means Salesforce can bring its products into Slack through integrations.
"One the biggest benefits of Slack … it plays out the amount of time that people spend in it … with that it becomes a very attractive place to put your software," he said. "The other thing that's super attractive about it is the way that you put your software there is consistent, agnostic of who puts it there, because of the design system that exists inside.
"When really embraced this digital HQ metaphor … we needed to put our software in this digital HQ, if you will, and our bet is going to be Slack. We think the combination of Slack is the digital HQ for employees and Salesforce is the software you use to digitally engage your customers and your partners."
Salesforce may buy Slack and the deal makes sense on multiple levels, but there's also a heavy dose of Microsoft concern on both sides that color the deal.
The acquisition sets up a showdown with Microsoft and its Teams platform over the future of collaboration and digital work. The grand plan is to combine Slack Connect and Salesforce Customer 360.
Salesforce hopes that moving into this space will significantly extend the reach of its CRM.