Slack CTO Cal Henderson says Salesforce data empowers collaboration

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Delivering on the value proposition of Salesforce’s $AUD37.5 billion acquisition of Slack in December 2020 required empowering the collaboration platform with the CRM giant's data, according to Slack chief technology officer Cal Henderson.

Henderson told Digital Nation Australia that the opportunity in the deal was to have the Salesforce cloud powerfully and seamlessly integrate with the collaboration platform.

While software consumption has exploded in the last two decades to the point that medium-sized businesses are buying on average more than 1000 different pieces of software, Henderson believes that the enablement and efficiency benefits have also led to fragmentation.

“We saw the opportunity when we were first building Slack to bring all of those tools together into one place and the only place that really makes sense is the communication layer,” he said.

According to Henderson, since its acquisition, Slack’s value is no longer simply as a collaboration tool, but as a collaboration tool driven by data.

“If you look at Salesforce series of products, the Customer 360 as they call it, there’s a lot of vertical lines of business applications, which are systems of record, ultimately. They store customer data around sales or service or marketing or commerce, or for particular industries. And Salesforce has a long history and a lot of success in that kind of line of business,” said Henderson.

“Slack is a horizontal layer that sits across everybody in the organisation and isn’t about customer data but is about if you like the glue work that happens between people where work gets done.”

Henderson said that pulling in Salesforce’s systems of record is what has added value for Slack.

“It’s really starting to realise the value of Salesforce and Slack together by helping you present and operate on Salesforce data from within the Slack environment.”

As instant messaging and collaboration platforms have their heyday, Henderson does not believe we are at the end of the email era, despite its limitations.

“We've had IM technology for at least the last 20 years in the workplace. Tools like Slack have been around a little while now, but I think email is still very much dominant and it's very much the default for most organisations.”

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