Slack Uses AI to Shift Into Higher Gear

Slack is all about work engagement. With a new AI rollout, that engagement should go into overdrive.

Slack, the digital workplace engagement platform, is on a roll in 2024.

The San Francisco-based company claims 65 million active monthly users this year. That’s up from 54.1 million in 2023 and 32.2 million in 2021.

Now, things are about to get hotter, as Slack announced it’s making its Slack AI tool available to all paid users.

“Today we’re announcing that Slack AI is now available in English, Spanish, and Japanese for customers on all paid Slack subscriptions to purchase, now with new capabilities,” Slack stated on April 18.

Here are four key takeaways from the announcement.

A “gradual” phase-in

Slack says 94% of corporate leaders say incorporating artificial intelligence into the workforce is an “urgent priority.” The trouble is that only 25% of U.S. workers say they’ve tried AI tools in the workplace.

Slack aims to boost those numbers with Slack AI. The company is taking a gradual approach with its AI rollout, launching with an initial set of generative AI capabilities, including:

• Search for answers that deliver personalized, intelligent responses to your questions
• Channel recaps that generate key highlights from accessible channels
• Thread summaries that catch you up on long conversations in one click

“These new native features are easy to use and require no training,” Slack says in the product release. “They prioritize exactly what you need to know when you need to know it. And they’re built on Slack’s secure, trusted infrastructure, so you remain in full control of your data.”

“Personalized” search

Slack analysts point to a recent Gartner study showing 47% of workers “struggle” to get needed data. In comparison, 32% say they’ve made workplace mistakes because they weren’t aware they had access to better information.

The new Slack AI plans to change that dynamic through elevated dynamic search that provides “instant, tailored answers to your questions—so you don’t have to waste valuable time sifting through results like a digital detective,” the company states.

For example, on new company projects, staffers can search for answers that clarify the project’s goal and the key stakeholders and decision-makers.

“This means no wild goose chases using roundabout search terms; if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, AI will make smart suggestions,” Slack reports. “Just ask a question conversationally, like you would to that friendly colleague who knows everything about your organization.”

Cutting to the chase

The new Slack AI initiative also wants to help digital workers “get to the point” by giving them direct access to channel recaps and thread summaries and avoiding spending “hours” searching for information.

“With channel recaps, you can generate key highlights on any channel with a click and cut straight to what’s most important to you,” Slack states, “You’ll get a quick rundown of what’s happening, whether you want to catch up on unread messages, summarize the past seven days, or set a custom date range.”

The AI tools’ thread summaries provide team members with “the gist” of a long conversation with a single click. “Clear sources are cited in each summary, allowing you to dive deeper into any highlight,” Slack notes.

Plans for new Slack AI tools

Slack says companies like Wayfair and Beyond Better Foods are already using its AI applications.

It’s also looking beyond the new AI introduction, saying it plans on “expanding Slack AI search and summaries capabilities to tap into new data sources, such as files, Slack apps, canvases, clips, and more.”

“We’re also infusing Slack AI into more ways that your teams work,” Slack reports. “Users currently spend 383 million minutes per week on huddles. In the future, you’ll be able to tap Slack AI as your huddle note-taker, summarizing key points and action items so that you don’t have to.”

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