Followers of this column — and of Microsoft’s enterprise moves in general — know that 2020 has been a year of remote collaboration, powered in large part by Microsoft Teams.
Throughout the year, Microsoft has been relentless in its drive to extend Teams collaboration to every corner of its software empire. The campaign has successfully caught the Zeitgeist created by COVID-19, which has driven organizations to disperse teams to remote offices.
Now the competition among collaboration hubs is heating up in the wake of Salesforce’s $27.7 billion acquisition of Teams archrival Slack. When the deal closes, Slack will become an operating unit of Salesforce — and will fortify Salesforce’s own drive to stake its claim as a comprehensive enterprise platform, especially in the post-pandemic age of distributed workforces.
To put a finer point on it, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced that Slack would be folded into Salesforce’s Customer 360 platform. “We see in Slack a once-in-a-generation company platform,” Benioff said in a statement. “It’s the central nervous system of so many companies on this call and our company and so many of our great customers, connecting everyone and everything, and now we could go even bigger, better, more exciting. And it brings all the companies, people, the data, the tools together. And you can see all the CRM information, the sales the customer interactions. You also saw Slack Connect, which extends the benefit of Slack so employees can securely work and collaborating with partners, suppliers, customers.”
If that sounds familiar, it takes a page directly from Microsoft’s campaign for ubiquitous collaboration. (Historical note: Before it rolled its own solution with Teams, Microsoft was rumored to be considering acquiring Slack itself.)
Bottom line: This new development will give your buyers more factors to consider when choosing collaboration hubs. For the past year, Microsoft has been shoring up Teams’ position as the integrated collaboration solution for the enterprise, bolstering its edge against independent rivals like Zoom and Slack. Along the way, it’s picked up market share among enterprise buyers.
Now Slack is rolling into the wheelhouse of one of the few software companies with enterprise reach to rival Microsoft. Once the deal is done, look forward to a full-on arms race between Microsoft and Salesforce to enrich all aspects of their software solutions for remote collaboration.