If you work in tech or publishing, you’ve probably heard about the popular chat app Slack. Hell–you’re probably using Slack. And you know that, unlike consumer chat apps like WhatsApp, Slack is all about workplace communication. Tech startups and news publishers the world over use it and love it.
Of course, there’s a good chance that your friends and family who aren’t in tech or publishing have never heard of Slack. As successful as the app is in the tech world, it hasn’t hit the mainstream yet.
Slack wants to be the next Microsoft. But that requires winning over traditional businesses like banks, manufacturers, and wholesalers that distribute plastic pipe fittings. In other words, Slack must win over suits, not just geeks.
To that end, the company announced today an integration with business software giant Salesforce. If you’ve used Slack, you know it already offers hundreds of integrations with other apps. But most of them are things software developers use–the project management tool Trello or the code hosting and collaboration site GitHub, for example. Or they’re novelties that let you do things like order tacos.
Salesforce is different, because many of the companies Slack must win over already use it.
Salesforce sells all kinds of cloud-based services, but remains best known for software that helps sales people manage their contacts. With this integration, users can search for information stored in Salesforce directly from Slack. They also can push info, like, say, updates about a particular sales lead, from Salesforce directly into Slack chat rooms.
This isn’t earth-shattering, but Slack head of business development Brad Armstrong says Salesforce was the most requested integration among existing users. And it presents an opportunity to introduce Slack to a new user base and expand the company’s reach. Salesforce is widely used by everyone from tech startups that already love Slack to the giant corporations that Slack must win over to fulfill its ambitions.
Salesforce offers tools that let just about anyone integrate their product into Salesforce, but Armstrong says Slack worked closely with the company to build a bridge between the products. That’s a first for Slack. “We’ve had integrations with things like Box and Google Drive that are used by very big companies, but this is the first time we’ve announced a partnership with a large enterprise,” says Armstrong.
Making Slack as ubiquitous as Microsoft Office will require a lot more than a few partnerships with big name business software companies. But Slack must start somewhere if it wants to move beyond tech and publishing.