TDX23 Recap: *SIX* upcoming Slack features showcased at Salesforce TrailblazerDX 2023
Whew! What a few days! With nearly 40 Slack specific sessions, there were plenty of exciting updates around new and upcoming features. For those who follow Slack closely, you may notice most of these have been previously showcased, previewed or demoed at other Salesforce conferences like Slack Frontiers, Dreamforce and Salesforce World Tour(s) -- though they are now all much closer to GA than before. 👀
I wanted to spend some time quickly reviewing the latest and greatest for those who could not make it to #TDX23 and add my thoughts on how they will all work together to make Slack the most powerful tool which facilitates the future of work in 2023.
ChatGPT & Slack
When ChatGPT was released earlier this year, there instantly started to be open-source repos (example) and third-party apps (Albus) popping up that allowed you to use ChatGPT within Slack. At 21b, we actually implemented one of these open-source repos for a customer and they are using it in their Slack workspace this day! Or at least until the below comes out... 😂
💥 ChatGPT for Slack app was officially announced at TDX23 and touted as a way to get up to speed faster, instantly share/find answers to questions and draft messages in seconds. Anyone who has used ChatGPT should immediately be able to see the value this will add in the context of Slack. Plus, if you've been using Slack for a while, the app will yield tons of power as there is already historical data for it to use across your threads, channels and workspaces.
It is in beta, and to be honest I had not heard a peep about it before TDX23, so I too requested to join the waitlist here. There is no clear indication of when this will be opening up or if release is any time in 2023.
And as I'm sure you have heard by now, there is also Einstein GPT (currently in closed pilot). I am unclear how it will work with Slack, though it definitely sounds powerful:
Einstein GPT for Slack Customer 360 apps: Deliver AI-powered customer insights in Slack like smart summaries of sales opportunities and surface end users actions like updating knowledge articles. (link)
New Slack Platform
The next generation platform has been in beta since late 2022 and is moving towards GA release later this year. Once again, the Slack team did an excellent job at showcasing this amazing advancement -- as it now allows you to spin up modular apps and functions and deploy them to production in seconds via the Slack CLI.
The Slack CLI is a breeze to use - go check it out! For those who have used the existing Slack Bolt platform/framework, you'll know you need to set up infrastructure (ex. Heroku, AWS Lambda) and databases (ex. MongoDB) outside of Slack for your apps/bots. Well not anymore! The next-gen platform allows you to host directly in Slack Cloud and create Datastores from the Slack CLI in seconds. This means the barrier to entry is much lower and much easier to get through to build and deploy fully production ready apps -- and automate everything.
Go set up the beta and you can get a sample app running in your workspace in minutes. Feel the power! 💪
Workflow Builder 2.0
Along with the next generator platform which you can use to build custom workflow steps (and full custom apps/bots of course), there are declarative changes coming to Workflow Builder that will add more steps and even conditional functionality (!!!) so administrators can do much more without any code.
As you may know now, there are two out-of-the-box steps available with Slack - Open a Form and Send a Message. This is getting expanded to ~10 steps -- and this is just to start. This opens the door to automating many more business processes that may have been just out of reach before due to limited steps.
Plus, by added in custom workflow steps using the next-gen platform referenced above, you can automate full business processes not only within Slack, but connected to third-party external systems as well. This is where the real automation power is.
Officially announced towards the end of 2022, this wasn't really touched on as much as previously though this will massively improve the value of channels as it will provide "a new surface in your digital HQ, where teams can curate, organize and share mission-critical resources". Haven't heard yet? Check this article out or the gif below for a visual.
Salesforce for Slack Apps
In the last few years, 10+ Salesforce for Slack apps have been created and released across clouds, industries and verticals (read more here). To date, these apps have had pretty limited success compared to third-party apps like Troops (acquired by Salesforce), Centro and Rattle which continue to be where customers go for integrating the systems quickly and seamlessly.
This may be changing as there appears to be a heavy focus in 2023 on improving the core cloud apps, specifically Service Cloud for Slack and Sales Cloud for Slack. TDX23 sessions focused on Service Cloud for Slack swarming and announced towards the end of 2022 at Salesforce World Tour, the Sales Productivity Bundle improves on existing versions of the Sales Cloud for Slack app and integration and pushes productivity for sales teams even further thanks to the Sales Hub (and Canvas). Plus in the Slack keynote they specifically call out leveraging Salesforce Screen Flows in Slack which on top of Salesforce Core Flow Actions for Slack, will give builders a lot of power to do interesting things when Slack is connected to Salesforce.
Apex SDK for Slack
Continuing down the Salesforce for Slack road, there is the updated Apex SDK for Slack. Some of you may be familiar with an earlier version or iteration of this previously known as Foyer. Essentially, this SDK will help grow the Salesforce Platform for Slack tools so that those who are historically Salesforce developers can build Slack apps.
The Future of Work with Slack
Once again, Slack has proven they are investing in the future of work by targeting features that all work together seamlessly to lead to incredible value for customers both already utilizing Slack and those looking to start using Slack for the first time -- especially if they are already Salesforce customers. Slack is where work gets done across all systems unlocking massive productivity across companies.
There is an excellent mixture of declarative, administrator, no-code enabled enhancements coming as well as more developer-focused, developer-experience features for both Slack (and Salesforce) developers. No matter who you are, or your technical expertise, there will be even more powerful ways to build automations and processes for your teams within Slack and across external third-party systems in 2023.
TrailblazeDX 2023 Slack Keynote Sessions | Slack Sessions