Slack might greatest be identified merely as a device for crew messaging, however for a lot of customers the power to attach apps and automate actions is central to its attraction.
With that in thoughts, the corporate in the present day introduced a redesign of its workflow engine designed to make automations extra accessible to a wider vary of customers. The adjustments have been unveiled at Slack’s Frontiers occasion.
The updates are geared toward extending present capabilities that permit builders customise apps and automate workflows inside the app. This consists of the Slack Platform APIs for builders and Workflow Builder, a no-code platform launched two years in the past that lets non-technical customers create their very own automations.
It’s an essential focus for Slack, which stated greater than 400,000 customers have created workflows for the reason that introduction of the Workflow Builder, which was created after the acquisition in 2018 of Missions, a startup specializing on this space. Last yr, Slack added the power to incorporate actions in third-party apps in workflows with the rollout of “steps for apps.”
The newest updates – slated to arrive in 2022 — expand on its ambitions to help users customize the software to meet their individual needs.
“What we always wanted was to give people the equivalent of Lego blocks that they can recombine, because there are so many actions that are common,” Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield stated in a pre-recorded briefing, streasing that automations can bridge the hole between methods of document and employees in enterprise roles with out requiring builders. “If you are a salesman or HR advantages administrator you might have a significantly better thought of the place the friction is and the place the difficulties and the challenges are in the way in which that you just use the software program.”
Slack users and developers can create workflows using “blocks” — essentially, snippets of code that trigger actions in Slack, such as creating a new channel or initiating interactions between third-party apps – which can then be combined into larger blocks for more complex multi-step workflows.
A key change is that these blocks can also be shared with other Slack users by sending a link. The recipient can then edit or “remix” the automation to fit their own needs, adding or removing steps, for example. The changes need to be made in the Workflow Builder.
These updates ought to make workflow automations extra accessible to customers than is now doable with the Workflow Builder, stated Steve Wood, vice chairman of product for Slack’s developer platform. Rather than putting in an app and it displaying up as a slash command, for instance, the brand new workflow engines “gives you a library of these blocks, so you’ve got more in your arsenal to automate work,” he stated.
“To have a digital HQ you need to customize your space in the way you would with your office environment: we’ve made the workflow engine foundational to how you customize Slack,” stated Wood.
Enhancements to the Workflow Builder itself embody a brand new drag-and-drop interfaceand the addition of conditional logic that lets customers construction workflows round if/then statements.
It can even be doable to attach a number of functions in a single workflow, Slack stated, with info mechanically up to date throughout separate apps — permitting for extra advanced workflows. For instance, an incident response notification from the PagerDuty may set off the creation of a difficulty in Jira, whereas a extra extreme incident may also open a brand new crew channel inside Slack to coordinate a response.
While channel-based messaging alone can enhance communications, integration with third-party instruments is essential, too, stated Wayne Kurtzman, analysis director at IDC. He cited a current IDC survey that integrating exterior functions into collaboration software program instruments successfully may end up in a 77% quicker time-to-completion of tasks.
“Slack has always sought to be the 2% of an IT budget that makes the other 98% more valuable,” stated Kurtzman. He described Slack’s new building-block strategy as “an easy metaphor with serious potential to improve the way individuals work — even without any coding experience.”
The adjustments to the platform are more likely to broaden the attraction of Slack’s automation capabilities amongst non-technical customers, stated Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight.
“Simplicity and reusability are really key, particularly for organizations that are newer to automation and app building within Slack, because you need to recognize that people don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time,” she stated.
The newest strikes additionally make sense for Slack because it continues to compete with Microsoft Teams by bolstering its present strengths as an integration and automation platform, stated Ashenden.
“It’s always been a challenge for Slack in terms of how they differentiate against Teams, so this ‘hub’ capability with automation and a focus on work rather than just chat is increasingly important. It’s a key area where they’re investing for obvious reasons,” she stated.
At Frontiers, Slack additionally introduced new developer instruments, together with a command line interface, software program improvement package, and the power to host knowledge on Slack’s infrastructure to simplify app-building on the platform.
Other updates embody an growth to the variety of exterior customers who can entry Slack Connect shared channels. Slack Connect launched final yr test, simplifying communication with exterior companions by way of share channels and direct messages, with out requiring visitor accounts. Next yr, the restrict on the quantity organizations that may share a single channel might be elevated from 20 to 250.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.