Slack Enterprise users gain generative AI-based search and summarization capabilities

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Salesforce Inc. said today it’s building on the generative artificial intelligence capabilities within its Slack messaging and collaboration platform.

The company has just announced the availability of a paid add-on called Slack AI, which makes it easier for users to tap into the collective knowledge stored within user’s conversations and threads. Slack says it provides a guided experience for users, enabling AI-powered search, thread summaries and channel recaps, with additional features on the way, enabling users to find the information they need in seconds, as opposed to searching for it manually.

Because Slack AI is “guided,” the company said, the new capabilities are easy to use, with no training required. Instead, they’re accessible via guided, contextual interactions.

The AI-powered search functionality is said to deliver personalized and intelligent responses to any question Slack users may have. Users can ask Slack AI questions in their natural language and get an immediate, concise response based on the relevant messages within Slack’s channels and threads. It’s aimed at helping users to find the answers they need more rapidly, whether that’s learning about a new marketing campaign, company policies, defining unfamiliar acronyms or something else.

The channel recaps feature is designed to provide a quick summary of the highlights within any given channel, allowing users to catch up quickly on unread messages or summarize what was said over the last week. The company explained that this feature could be especially useful to someone who has just returned to work after a vacation, or for someone who has joined a new team.

Finally, there’s a new thread summaries capability that does what the name suggests, enabling users to get up to speed on long conversations within Slack. The summaries provide clear sources for each highlight, allowing users to dive deeper into that aspect of the conversation if needed. It’s designed to summarize any decisions that are made, the next steps to be implemented and so on.

According to Salesforce, these new capabilities in Slack will be a game-changer. It cites a report from Gartner Inc. that shows how almost half of all digital workers struggle to find the information they need to do their jobs due to the vast range of tools and platforms people use to collaborate and share ideas and information. AI makes it possible to find the information people need much more quickly than they could do on their own.

To emphasize this point, Salesforce offered an example of what Slack AI can do for sales representatives. For instance, they can use Slack AI to identify and bring in the right subject matter expert when a customer has a specific question or concern during a deal cycle, or else summarize what was said in a specific account channel, so as to prepare for their next meeting with that customer. It can also help to generate key takeaways from any discussion.

Slack AI will also be useful to engineering teams, allowing them to find solutions in previous incident channels that can be applied to their current problems, or recap a previous incident channel and use it as the starting point of a root cause analysis.

Slack Chief Executive Denise Dresser said Slack AI is all about helping people to work smarter and move faster, so they can use their time more efficiently. “In the era of generative AI, Slack is the trusted, conversational platform that connects every part of a business to supercharge team productivity,” she added.

Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said Slack is the perfect tool to leverage generative AI technology, which excels at reading and understanding text. “Analyzing and summarizing messages within Slack is an obvious use case for this technology, and it will help users be able to process information from within their favorite collaboration tool more easily,” the analyst explained. “It’s another example of how AI is changing the future of work and making people more efficient.”

The company also reassured users from a privacy perspective, saying that trust is one of its most important values and that it is committed towards building AI products in a safe, responsible and ethical way. To that end, Slack AI runs on the company’s own computing infrastructure and upholds the same security and compliance standards.

Moreover, its large language models are hosted directly within Slack, ensuring customer data is never compromised or moved to a different location. It also promised that customer data is never used for AI training purposes.

In a future update, Slack AI will gain additional capabilities including a new digests feature that summarizes highlights from low-priority channels users want to be kept informed about. The company is also building a native integration with Einstein Copilot, the recently announced conversational assistant for Salesforce’s flagship customer relationship management software. With that integration, Slack AI will be able to answer user’s questions with responses based on trusted customer data.

Finally, Slack said a number of its partners are adding AI features to their Slack applications, enabling users to query for answers in Box files, ask PagerDuty Copilot for help in resolving incidents and summarize documents in Notion.

The company said Slack AI is initially available only in English as a paid add-on for Slack Enterprise plans, with support for additional languages coming soon.

Images: Salesforce

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