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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
255
Tools as a catalyst for culture change (in IBM)
Mon, Apr 17th 2017 9:21a   Stuart McIntyre
A fascinating article by Bill Higgins, the IBM Distinguished Engineer that lead a major project to revolutionise the company’s approach to product development: When our CEO Ginni Rometty hired Jeff Smith as IBM’s CIO, with the mandate to help IBM achieve better business and technical agility, I proposed to Jeff that we provide the entire company with a great continuous delivery toolchain that fostered radical collaboration across disciplines. Jeff agreed and for the past two and a half yea
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Tools as a catalyst for culture change (in IBM)Tools as a catalyst for culture change (in IBM)
Mon, Apr 17th 2017 8:44a   Stuart McIntyre
A fascinating article by Bill Higgins, the IBM Distinguished Engineer that lead a major project to revolutionise the company’s approach to product development: When our CEO Ginni Rometty hired Jeff Smith as IBM’s CIO, with the mandate to help IBM achieve better business and technical agility, I proposed to Jeff that we provide the entire company with a great continuous delivery toolchain that fostered radical collaboration across disciplines. Jeff agreed and for the past two and a half yea
82
Two very interesting new partnerships in the IBM Connections spaceTwo very interesting new partnerships in the IBM Connections space
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   Stuart McIntyre
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89
CGATE – an easy-to-use front end for IBM ConnectionsCGATE – an easy-to-use front end for IBM Connections
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   Stuart McIntyre
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IBM Connections 6 is coming soon… So what is the killer enhancement?IBM Connections 6 is coming soon… So what is the killer enhancement?
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   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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What not to miss at IBM Connect 2017: Connections PinkWhat not to miss at IBM Connect 2017: Connections Pink
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   Stuart McIntyre
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89
T’was ten years ago… (Lotus Connections & Quickr)T’was ten years ago… (Lotus Connections & Quickr)
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   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. Ev
65
Upcoming Open Mic: What Is New and What Is Coming with IBM Connections (19 April 2017)Upcoming Open Mic: What Is New and What Is Coming with IBM Connections (19 April 2017)
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   Stuart McIntyre
IBM Open Mic calls are always useful – the opportunity to ask questions directly of developers, engineers and product managers is never one to pass up. The next session scheduled focuses on IBM Connections, both the just-released version 6, and the planned re-architecture initiative known as ‘Pink’: IBM Connections provides the platform of social tools you need to transform your organization. IBM Connections enables you to reach your customers and partners faster, drive innovation, share
66
IBM Connections 6.0 Reviewer’s GuideIBM Connections 6.0 Reviewer’s Guide
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   Stuart McIntyre
The IBM Connections Reviewer’s Guide has always been a useful document, for both prospective and existing customers. It outlines the key features of the new release, particularly focusing on new features and enhancements, but also provides an excellent overview of the product as a whole. The Reviewer’s Guide for the latest release, 6.0, has just been published: With this latest 6.0 release, we continue to build on the strong capabilities of IBM Connections by adding new and relevant features
46
IBM Connections 6.0 announced, generally available March 31stIBM Connections 6.0 announced, generally available March 31st
Sat, Apr 15th 2017 7:10a   Stuart McIntyre
They told us at Connect that IBM Connections 6.0 would be made available in Q1, and here’s the announcement that they’ll be sneaking it across the line on the 31st March… Connections V6.0 adds new capabilities for creating and customizing engaging Communities, and offers users increased flexibility in syncing and managing their online and offline Files folders. Updates: Community customization capabilities can help to make a Community more useful and engaging for the Community members. D




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