Slack AI announced with summaries of unread messages and more
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A month after launching a new experience for salespeople and a redesign that drew love and hate from its global user base, messaging app Slack is moving forward with its mission to make collaborative work easier for organizations.
Today the Salesforce-owned platform announced Slack AI, a new set of AI-generated intelligence that will be integrated directly into the platform’s messaging interface and, ideally, will allow users to save time and be more productive.
The features are set to be demonstrated at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference next week, along with new lists capability for better management of assigned work, and an updated workflow builder that will allow more users to build automations and get things done within the platform.
“Slack started as a channel-based messaging platform but we’re really developing it into an intelligent productivity platform,” Rob Seaman, Slack’s senior vice president of enterprise products, told VentureBeat. There are three main product areas we focus on:
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- The first is collaboration, which everyone knows and loves
- Two is knowledge, where Slack becomes the most important knowledge repository for your entire company;
- And the third is automation where we’re really trying to let everyone in Slack automate their work and make themselves more productive.
The company says that not all of these features will be available immediately.
Make work easier with Slack AI
Back in May, when Salesforce announced Slack GPT, the company promised LLM-powered features in different areas of the product.
Now, with the announcement of Slack AI, the first batch of features are rolling out: channel summaries, topic summaries, and search answers.
The first two, as the names suggest, will provide users with AI-generated summaries and summaries of individual channels and threads, giving users a way to quickly get to what matters most, without going through all the messages right from the start.
This will be especially useful in cases where the users are out of the loop. For example, if a specialist has just been added to a thread related to incident management, they can quickly review the summary to understand what’s wrong and offer suggestions for help.
Likewise, if the user is a PTO, they can quickly build highlights from the last time they read the message and jump straight to what’s important. This can be used to extract key topics from comment channels or draft status reports for project channels.
Seaman noted that the best part about channel summaries is that the feature displays the source with highlights, which adds confidence and transparency to the user experience.
This way, when passing through a vantage point, users can easily click and check where the information was pulled from and get into the details.
Then, with search answers, Slack embeds generative AI into the platform’s search experience, allowing users to simply ask natural-language questions to get clear, well-summarized answers (imagine a ChatGPT-like experience).
This feature leverages the collective knowledge within Slack, including related messages and all the context they contain, to deliver answers within seconds, whether it’s a project, group process, feature launch, or something else.
However, it should be noted that this new experience will not replace the usual search experience. The summary will appear above the normal search results provided by Slack, covering relevant messages, files, and channels.
The Slack-owned LLMs power the new Slack AI features, Seaman said, noting that they are all hosted within the company’s virtual cloud and nothing gets out of the user prompts outside the four walls of the VPC.
“The key thing for us with AI is that it is built on the secure foundation of Slack. These native AI capabilities will provide the same security and compliance that customers have come to expect from Slack. We also have additional security safeguards in place that ensure no data is sent to third parties, and no data is used In third party model training and no data leakage between tenants or clients.
But there is more
Along with the new AI features, Slack also offers an updated lists and workflow builder for enterprise users.
Lists feature links in the work management capabilities of Slack’s communication flow, allowing users to create lists of active projects (from marketing campaigns to product launches) and assign them to relevant parties, tracking their progress all the way to completion.
“Teams can manage all types of work with lists – everything from sorting IT requests to reviewing a range of legal approvals to managing roadmaps or cross-functional projects,” explained Seaman. “Because it’s built into Slack, teams can collaborate on lists just as easily and quickly as they can on channels. Mentioning team members will send them alerts just like mentioning them in a message, sharing on channels is a seamless experience and each item on the list can support A rich set of messages back and forth with a thread about each item.
Meanwhile, an enhanced workflow builder allows teams to build automation processes without any code. With workflow connectors from Google, Asana, Jira, and other platforms, they can combine multiple tools into a single workflow to automate tasks across Slack. What’s more, it will also come with a new automation center, which will provide built-in templates to get started quickly and better ways to share, remix, and reuse workflows over time. The company said users can also embed Salesforce Flow automation and custom apps, hosted in Slack, into their workflows.
While all of these features promise a new and improved Slack version, they aren’t ready to ship — yet.
According to the company, Slack AI and work management features will be trialled this winter and will roll out sometime in 2024. Meanwhile, the improved automation builder is now available for users — and its hub is set to debut later this month.
However, it should be noted that the company is just getting started in the field of artificial intelligence. According to Seaman, the three AI features announced today were shown to generate the most value in internal testing. The company is also exploring additional use cases, such as creating in Slack Canvas, that may debut at a later stage.
“There is a lot we can and will do,” he said.
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