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Slack takes aim at the corporate sector with Enterprise Grid, names IBM as one of the launch customers
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Stuart McIntyre    

TechCrunch yesterday reported on Slack’s plans to unveil an enterprise version of it’s service:

Slack, the business app that lets teams of users communicate, share files from other services, and work on them with each other, has taken off like wildfire since launching three years ago, with 5 million daily users, 1.5 million of them paying today. Now, Slack is embarking on the next step in its ambition to be the go-to platform for all workplace collaboration, no matter how big the company may be.

(Or up to 500,000 employees, to be more specific.)

[T]he eponymous company behind the app is today launching Enterprise Grid — a new product aimed at corporates and other very large enterprises.

Slack Enterprise Grid

All good news and not wholly unexpected so far. But then it gets a little bit weird…

The new version goes live today, and to kick it off, Slack is announcing some initial customers: financial services giant Capital One, Paypal and IBM.

IBM is a particularly interesting name to see here, given that it sells its own collaboration product for large enterprises, IBM Connections, and it is also working on what appears to be its own AI business intelligence product, Watson Workspace. Other would be competitors include Workplace from Facebook, Microsoft’s Teams, Jive and Spark from Cisco.

Yep, IBM is named as one of the reference customers for this new enterprise Slack service, despite having recently launched its own AI-driven chat service, Watson Workspace.

Many of us already knew that IBM were using Slack internally – I got to see that first-hand on a visit to the Austin Design Lab back in the summer – but it is still a surprise to see IBM named so dramatically on a competitor’s launch communications:

The ‘customer profile’ linked from the Slack site goes directly to this PDF, stating:

[IBM CIO, Jeff] Smith cites that he’s able to have more consistent, dynamic conversations with his direct reports in Slack, reducing his meeting load. He’s also able to deliver messages to the right audiences and avoid blasting people with information not relevant to them. The fact that he can send messages to team members even when they aren’t logged in is another bonus, given the nature of his globally- distributed team.

For Smith, much of the value of Slack comes from the fact that it aligns with his vision for how teams should work together. “Collective intelligence will always outweigh individual insights,” he says. And with the additional security provided by Slack Enterprise Grid, there was little hesitation in his decision to get the whole team on board.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve long argued that IBMers (including those in Lotus/ICS) needed to use competitor solutions in anger in order to better understand their value, their USPs, and the user experience they delivered. I remember making that point regarding Dropbox in particular back in the days of Lotusphere. Therefore I have no issue with IBMers (particular in the IT/CIO office, where extensions and integrations with support platforms are so important) using Slack, nor with IBM integrating Slack into their own solutions.

However, it does seem a little tone-deaf to be so actively promoting a competitor’s enterprise solution on day of release, when there is a similar IBM offering (Watson Workplace) currently in preview mode and likely to be formally launched in 2017, plus numerous other IBM solutions (Verse, Connections, Sametime) that make similar claims regarding the ability to transform work practices.

Let’s take this paragraph from the reference PDF:

Smith notes that it’s not just people who are communicating in Slack. His team has connected numerous apps and integrations that push information from other services directly into Slack channels, sparing team members from having to switch between apps while also allowing them to quickly spot, discuss, and resolve issues. Alerts from other tools and services show up in Slack channels as new deployments go live or any issues in the delivery pipeline need attention.

and instead write it as:

Smith notes that it’s not just people who are communicating in Connections. His team has connected numerous apps and integrations that push information from other services directly into Connections communities, sparing team members from having to switch between apps while also allowing them to quickly spot, discuss, and resolve issues. Alerts from other tools and services show up in Connections activity streams as new deployments go live or any issues in the delivery pipeline need attention.

Wouldn’t that be a fantastic case study for IBM to be sharing with ICS customers at IBM Connect 2017 later this month?

If I was attending Connect as an IBM partner, I’d be asking the ICS execs some tough questions on what it means for IBM at a corporate level to be promoting competitor products ahead of their own solutions.

What do you think? Does it give you additional confidence in your investment in ICS solutions that IBM is working so closely with competitors like Slack, Box and Cisco? Or are you worried that this signifies a lack of positive reinforcement of quality of their own solutions in this area? I’d love to hear from you!



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Feb 01, 2017
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Recent Blog Posts
36
IBM Connections 6 is coming soon… So what is the killer enhancement?
Wed, Mar 15th 2017 10:20a   Stuart McIntyre
Earlier this week IBM published a press release previewing the headline features of the upcoming new on-premises release of Connections: IBM today announced it is bringing new capabilities to enterprise social networks for a simpler collaboration across the workforce and employee onboarding experience. The latest version of IBM Connections also integrates with IBM Cloud Object Storage, providing companies an ability to scale their storage needs with their employee’s usage while improving st
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Tue, Mar 14th 2017 11:59a   Stuart McIntyre
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Genius
Mon, Mar 6th 2017 10:58a   Stuart McIntyre
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Conspiracy theories, courtesy of Google Home
Mon, Mar 6th 2017 10:36a   Stuart McIntyre
https://twitter.com/ruskin147/status/838445095410106368/video/1 This kind of (accidental?) misinformation is going to be become an ever increasing issue as intelligent assistants become more deeply embedded into our lives. Worrying…
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Engage 2017 abstract submission closes today
Tue, Feb 28th 2017 3:51p   Stuart McIntyre
Engage 2017 is about 2 months away. Monday-Tuesday, 8 – 9 May, 2017, at the Elisabeth Center Antwerp, Belgium. A brand new conference center, in an historic frame. In the city center, next to the 19th century Zoo and the stunning Antwerp Central train station. Our target is to have more attendees than the 425 attendees we had last time. Close to 80 sessions in 5 tracks: Business & Strategy, Development, Administration & Deployment, Emerging Technologies and for the first time: B
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Ghost Browser – the Productivity Browser for Tech Pros
Thu, Feb 2nd 2017 8:50a   Stuart McIntyre
You may already be aware of Ghost Browser, my apologies if so. However, I’ve lost count of the number of advanced users that I’ve met in the past month or so that haven’t seen it yet, but who would benefit significantly from its features: Put simply, Ghost Browser allows you to have multiple authenticated sessions open to the same site simultaneously, with each session having its own cookie jar, isolated from other sessions. This allows users such as web developers, testers,
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Slack takes aim at the corporate sector with Enterprise Grid, names IBM as one of the launch customers
Wed, Feb 1st 2017 2:58p   Stuart McIntyre
TechCrunch yesterday reported on Slack’s plans to unveil an enterprise version of it’s service: Slack, the business app that lets teams of users communicate, share files from other services, and work on them with each other, has taken off like wildfire since launching three years ago, with 5 million daily users, 1.5 million of them paying today. Now, Slack is embarking on the next step in its ambition to be the go-to platform for all workplace collaboration, no matter how big
5
What not to miss at IBM Connect 2017: Connections Pink
Wed, Feb 1st 2017 11:22a   Stuart McIntyre
IBM Connect 2017 takes place later this month in San Francisco, and the last-minute push to increase attendance is already underway.  I’m a big fan of the new venue, and the shift from Florida to California, and so really hope that the event is a huge success. One of the interesting aspects of the registration push has been the unveiling of some information that previously being kept relatively quiet – if not under NDA, certainly out of the limelight: IBM Connections provides the p
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Dropbox Paper: Grow bigger, brighter ideas
Mon, Jan 30th 2017 8:08p   Stuart McIntyre
Dropbox announced that they are rolling their Paper collaborative content creation platform out on a global basis today: More than a doc, Dropbox Paper is a flexible workspace that brings people and ideas together. Paper supports all phases of the creative process – from start to finish: A connected space to create and ideate together Teams find flow together in Paper, where everyone can contribute to growing better ideas in a beautiful, flexible workspace. Review and revise work in a
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T’was ten years ago… (Lotus Connections & Quickr)
Fri, Jan 27th 2017 3:11p   Stuart McIntyre
Unfortunately I’ve just missed the actual anniversary, but I thought it worth celebrating that this week marks a decade since the announcement (on 22nd January 2007) of two products that have had an immense impact on my working life, Lotus IBM Connections and Lotus Quickr. Lotusphere 2007 I was relatively late to the Lotusphere party, attending my first US-based event in 2004 after a couple of the European events. Therefore I never experienced the sell-out 10,000 attendee events pre 9/11




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