Salesforce is trying to tweak the nose of Microsoft Teams and Slack by building enterprise collaboration into its applications and platform in a move designed to make it integral to business process workflow.
In a challenge to existing collaboration tools, Salesforce claims video calls, chat, alerts, presence and comments can all be built into its application workflow using the Salesforce Anywhere app, available across mobile and PC systems.
The idea is that team members can start working together via instant messaging or video calls while looking at the same page within Salesforce - booting out any erstwhile integrated interlopers. The native real-time chat and video experience run on AWS Chime.
As well as building applications, Salesforce offers an application platform-as-a-service (aPaaS) to independent vendors, including FinancialForce, which has built up a $140m revenue ERP and finance business on the Salesforce platform.
Sarah Franklin, Salesforce exec veep and general manager of platform, said the plans is to make Anywhere accessible to developers, businesses it has made deals with and entrepreneurs on its aPaaS.
She said devs would be able to "plug and play (the collaboration features) and also have access to them programmatically via APIs" using Salesforce's low-code development environment.
Salesforce already offers some integration between its CRM application and Slack, which allows users to search Salesforce instances and share results in Slack via native APIs. It also allows users to share messages both ways between Salesforce Chatter and Slack channels. But it is not the same as the collaboration-within-workflow Salesforce is talking about in its Anywhere app.
Slack integration is also available via third parties including Zapier, Automate.io and Workato.
Microsoft also provides integration between its collaboration tool Teams and Salesforce via a connector which earned a two-star rating on its download site.
The Salesforce Anywhere App is expected to be available in beta in July with pilot customers globally. The product is expected to be generally available in the fourth quarter of 2020. Salesforce said it sees the app as part of an effort to help companies make their remote-working employees more productive during the COVID-19 disruption, with the expectation that the trend will continue as the virus abates.
Another product launched in this vein is something called Einstein Recommendations for Salesforce's Trailhead, which is essentially a recommendation engine built on an employee education platform. It suggests online courses staff may want to take based on their history, and users with a similar job profile.
It may be a logical move for Salesforce to build collaboration into its apps and platform in a post-COVID-19 world. But with open APIs generally making integration easier, it seems to think it might as well take a slice of the market for chat and video calling, rather than watch collab vendors dip into its customers' pockets. ®
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