Einstein Slack Bots — Future of Work, Chapter One: Destiny

Happy Dreamforce 2021! Running short on time? Cherry-pick what works best for you to read now. There’s roughly a two-minute read per section. Then come back later :)

Table of Content

  1. Introduction or why Einstein Slack Bots ou La Destinée”
  2. A once-in-a-generation opportunity that was meant to be
  3. About Slack & Salesforce — A Quick Summary
  4. How it all started: IT Service Desk Bots
  5. The Slack + Salesforce Combination — Future of Work
  6. Einstein Slack Bots — a sentimental point of view
  7. Dreamforce 2021 — check out these sessions this week!

Introduction

There is a lot of enthusiasm around Salesforce and Slack joining forces. So today, during Dreamforce’s 2021 week, I’d like to share some of these updates while providing a personal perspective on Einstein Bots’ relevance around it.

While trying to come up with a title for this article and (perhaps) for some metaphysical reason impossible for me to explain, I remembered ‘Zadig ou La Destinée’, the book, written by Voltaire in 1748. Reading it as a teenager it inspired me to seek beyond and discover the world (or so I thought back then). The story of Zadig is about a long winding path to the perfect partnership. It’sthe same for Slack and Salesforce joining forces; and how Einstein Bots will evolve in this odyssey. So here we go. Welcome, to

Einstein Slack Bots, Future of Work, Chapter One: The Destiny” (Chapitre 1: La Destinée).

A once-in-a-generation opportunity

Lo que ta pa tí, ta pa tí”, that’s 🇩🇴 Dominican spanish and it means, … “if its meant for you, its for you”. Cheesy-ness aside, it’s kind of true — in some instances, when there’s a match, it feels just perfect. And Slack and Salesforce joining forces feels just like that: arriving at an ideal moment in the history of tech, digital communication, customer engagement, and AI.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink and reshape how and where we work,” said Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO and Co-Founder. Salesforce and Slack are uniquely positioned to lead this historic shift to a digital-first world. I could not be more excited for whats to come.”

And neither can I.

There’s no secret to this. That’s because Slack and Salesforce both on their own, each on their realm, come a long way.

About Slack and Salesforce

Slack, since 2013/2014, has been reinventing the way teams collaborate and communicate at work, digitally, via chat channels where participants can get organized for 1:1s, 1 to many, many to many types of rich interactions. This is particularly key today for companies to communicate and run their business remotely and globally.

I like how Slack can impact business productivity by allowing both automation and 3rd party integration seamlessly in the platform. And how these, in turn, shape up to be conversational. For example, your Google Calendar notifying of upcoming meetings and schedule changes. [Like a simple outbound notification bot]. It was described early in its development as: “[i]magine all your team communication in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go, That’s Slack.”

Salesforce, pioneering business cloud computing since 1999, has been re-inventing how companies can be closer to their customers, leveraging the platform. Salesforce provides applications and capabilities allowing businesses to chorale around the most important asset: the customer. I love how Salesforce infuses AI and provides turn-key solutions for every level of the business chain. For example, your data allows you to forecast and plan activities. You can automate your business on performance triggers and take action, with humans, manually, as well as with bots, automatically.

One of the aspects of the combination of Salesforce and Slack that’s also really inspiring to me is that both companies also bring together two of the software industry’s most dynamic communities, creating an open and extensive ecosystem that will deliver the next generation of digital-first apps and workflows for business. This gets me excited! 🤓

The menu from here.

First, a little bit of background. Where it all started, with bots, Slack and Salesforce. Then, let’s talk about the present and what the Slack and Salesforce combination means. To arrive at a perspective on the impact of Einstein Bots and its positioning in the ‘Slack x Salesforce’ vector space. I’ll finish with a few recommendations for tomorrow on Dreamforce 2021!

How it all started: IT Service Desk Bots

It all started in 2014. Before discovering Slack, on IT Service Desk Chatbot projects. From vision to chatbots as participants on Lync although more often than not on Web Support Chats. Don’t remember Lync? A business messenger later called Skype for Business. Employees could reach out directly to the Lync/IT Service Desk Bot as they would to any other peer on the list of online participants.

A great use case back then, and a great use case still today. A lot of value with low hanging fruit for the repetitive tasks going from teaching employees how to install a printer, reset passwords, showcase how to connect on VPN while on travel. Things that might seem obvious today and that perhaps don’t happen as much either, like traveling.

A Chatbot Tale — or — Why should you care about TextBots for your Business?

Why IT Service Desk Bots mattered? Creating self-service experiences on channels like Lync, Web, SMS, or Voice, with technologies such Dydu.ai and Odigo’s AI initiatives was staging the ‘first level of the rocket’. It provided an understanding of how conversational interfaces would be a natural fit in everyday work. And also, IT Service Bots open the door to the imagination: firing tasks and process automation from conversational commands for example. This is where Slack comes in.

Initial Slack Exposure

I discovered Slack in 2015. As a product manager at Odigo when the company took the agile turn. Slack was used for feature teams and as a unified communications tool for PMs. I thought it was awesome, allowing new types of asynchronous communication and collaboration practices amongst digital tribes spread across territories. But also, it was intriguing to use Slack as a communication platform and explore new uses with the Odigo API and Zapier. Conversational commands triggering calls and SMS being fired on business events happening on emails or solutions like Salesforce.

Examples of commands for Odigo App on Slack:

/sendSMS 33786280680 “Merci pour tout. C’etait génial !”

/call agenda.CarlosLozano or 33786280680

Slack Explorations — Although these remain at the exploration and proof of concept or pilots level at times, it did work to open eyes and door to new types of usage. And that was cool. Here are screenshots and references for Process Automation & Product Vision as part of a previous article.

An API Love Affair or Playing with the Best Customer Relationship/Support Software in the World

Slack as a startup, then student — Next, I had several Slack experiences as a user. First, (10x users) experience in the context of giving it a shot at launching a start-up with a small team spread across the globe with collaboration and remote work needs. Then, in a larger environment of hundreds of peers, as a student at a Full Stack Web App Development Accelerator Program. A fantastic training and Slack use case: conversational student experience, with communication between working groups, and collaboration on courses, calendars, content, code.

Slack as a product manager, again— Finally, a Slack involvement at a large organization with thousands of peers as I joined the product organization at Salesforce. This was already a full-blown operation before having all of Salesforce on Slack and even before the acquisition.

The conversation is the vehicle — Business use case on Whatsapp

What has been interesting to see is how the conversation is the vehicle, the trend, and where the value is. One example that I love is from a business in the DR. I love how they manage their teams and workgroups on WhatsApp, at a national level. Zona Bici ‘bike rental, shop, tours, and repairs in the DR’ organizes communication and collaboration leveraging that very app. With different types of WhatsApp channel groups where different type of work gets done: stores, mechanics, suppliers, etc. Frugal business innovation in a conversational-driven world.

Slack, takes that to the next level.

A (Personal) Salesforce Expedition

I have been working on Salesforce for 7 years now. First, as a partner, developing voice, IVRs, chat, SMS, and bots solutions for Salesforce service cloud and other CRM and Customer Service solutions.

Then as a product evangelist solution engineer for service cloud on Einstein service, bots, and digital engagement. And recently as a product manager for digital engagement (messaging) and today for Einstein bots 🤖 It’s going to be electrifying to see how all of it will play out. For 2 reasons: one, Slack being conversational by nature, and two, Salesforce bringing more data and customer AI to mix will 🚀

A Perspective on Salesforce + Slack + adding an Einstein Bots point of view

I’m pumped about Salesforce’s & Slack’s paths joining to the perfect partnership. On the one hand there’s Slack, conversational by design, and on the other there’s Salesforce, providing additional customer insights, data, and AI. The possibilities are endless and I will try to present a little bit of it. I will also factor in a perspective on Einstein Bots from a Modularity, Automation, and Growth standpoint.

Why Salesforce + Slack?

Salesforce + Slack brings conversational flows, automated workflows, employees, customers, partners, humans, and bots together. Conversational trends are shaping the future of software and here are some elements that I’m eager for with regards to combined use cases:

Global: Unite your digital-first teams around the customer.

Sales: Collaborate better. Close faster.

Service: Give every customer the VIP treatment.

Marketing: Turn ideas into trusted relationships.

Platform: Bring your people and software together

Einstein Bots fit and a word on Modularity, Automation, and Growth

Where to position Einstein Bots in all of this? Well, Einstein bots couldn’t be more relevant down the line and in a very nice fashion in my opinion. I can’t hide my excitement and also would like to share a perspective. But first, it is fundamental to know that Einstein bots are coming out this release (Winter’22) with some cool stuff starting by:

  • Multi-language bots — Teaching Your Bot to Speak Multiple Languages (Beta)
  • Input Recommender — Generate Dialog Variations (Utterances) in More Languages with Input Recommender (Beta)
  • Article Answers — Get More from Your Knowledge Base with Article Answers Improvements (Beta)

Einstein Bots Modularity & Automation

Next generations Ebots are rising and here to stay. And Salesforce + Slack joining forces will enhance it. Modular Einstein Bots’ goal is extensibility, time to value, and reusability. Einstein bots is also about going beyond and providing APIs, connectors, and integrations to any experience, channel, and system.

Modular Einstein Bots is also about providing templates, skills, pre-built bots, intent sets, grammar, or language corpuses. From micro to mini bots, it changes the game while optimizing admin and bot-builder time.

Some examples for templates or modular bots.

Einstein Bots as an Open platform

The benefits of the Salesforce platform remain true and prevail. Salesforce is an open platform and huge community. Developers and SIs can take it to the next level, using Einstein Bots APIs. And Channels are now called Connections (release note Winter’22) as a way of showcasing aperture, and that we’re only at the very beginning of this voyage.

What about Slack and Modularity and Automation?

Slack has no shortage of modularity and automation capabilities for users to leverage. Here are three tip of the iceberg examples that I find useful as a product manager.

  • Stand up bots — very useful and practical for working from anywhere scrum teams (Stand Up Alice)
  • Implementation Bots — a custom Slack app that lets the CS teams share updates and track engagement.
  • Survey Bots — a custom Slack app useful from huge event on channels to cross teams working on aligning end-to-end global features.

There are many utilities and usages via Slack’s app directory to help enhance workflows and work remotely. Examples that should resonate include connections to Asana, WorkDay, Docusign, or Zoom. Tools that I use regularly include Calendar, Drive, Giphy (great tool :), LucidChart, Story Plan, and one of my favs Polly (Survey Bot). The list goes on.

Einstein Slack Bots or a Dream Teams Destiny

As a combined team, Einstein Slack Bot’s destiny or the future ahead will include both internal and external experiences so to say. Internal Einstein Slack Bots, with Salesforce pre-built Slack Apps that interact with Einstein Bots. And External Einstein Slack Bots, where Customers and Partners, and the community can build Slack Apps that interact with Einstein Bots. And I can’t wait for it.

Einstein Slack Bots will serve as participants in slack conversations, whether these are one-to-many, smaller or larger groups discussions, or even 1:1s. Einstein Slack Bots are present, listening in, and taking action when commanded, for example: (a) providing information coming from Salesforce or accessible through the platform, (b) providing answers to Q&A on channels leveraging articles or pieces of it from the Service Cloud’s Knowledge Base or executing business processes and presenting results in a conversational manner and in user/participant context, within Slack.

For me, what’s key is to think about it this way: you will “talk to your Salesforce, data, processes, bots, and people from Slack too. Remember our IT Service Desk Bot experience displayed at the beginning? Well, here’s a suitable instance and time for it! From here, the possibilities are endless. Stay tuned for the next Einstein Bots release!

Dreamforce 2021 is now!

Take the opportunity to learn about how Slack and Salesforce are shaping the future of work and beyond. Come see these sessions at Dreamforce!

In a nutshell

Slack’s & Salesforce’s perfect partnership couldn’t arrive at a better moment. Conversational + customer data + business process + AI is shaping our users’ experiences at both personal and professional levels: with Salesforce + Slack shaping the future of work. There are many sessions at Dreamforce 2021 that can help you take a few quick dives on this. Check them out! If you have any questions feel reach to out.

Thank you! And Happy Dreamforce!!

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lecharles

Product Management + Solution Engineer @Salesforce. Jugaad Innovation Aficionado. Web Application Development. Cryptocurrencies & Open Blockchains Apasionado.