Slack: Future operation system and PLM platform?

Slack: Future operation system and PLM platform?


How often you communicate using various messaging applications? My hunch you might use it more often that voice call these days. Text messages, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangout Chat. One of the things that caught my attention recently is a growing interest in chat and messaging applications. I remember one of the first experiences with ICQ chat (actually, it was 20 years since ICQ was launched). But messenger is not only a way to communicate. Lately, I can see messenger related projects that are aiming high and transforming messenger into personal assistant or collaboration platforms – Facebook “M” makes messenger your personal assistant or matching Slack with personal assistant.

I think treating chat as an operational system or platform in general will be huge. Artificial Intellegence will seep into chat apps, and the core features of other apps will as well.

Slack is the application I started to follow for some time. I also use it for my team communication. I shared my thoughts why I think Slack can be a good communication tool for engineers. In my view, Slack is a good candidate to become a platform for future engineering applications.

One of the things I specially like in Slack is the development of so called Slackbots. I can see a growing interest into the development of app store for Slack with variety of tools as the Slackbot infrastructure materializes. It might reboot classic apps treating Slack as a platform.

Here are few examples of materials that can give you an idea of how to develop Slackbots. Navigate to the following link on Slack website – Slackbot: your assistant, notepad & programmable bot. Another interesting article is explaining how to control your Slackbot from external services.

My attention caught the follow article by TheNextWeb – Slackbot may soon be a lot more helpful than Siri. This is my favorite passage:

Slackbot, the handy (but also annoying) assistant buried within communications platform SlackHQ, may soon be a lot more useful. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield says Slackbot may one day be more useful than Siri. Typically accessed via Slack’s direct message feature, Butterfield says Slackbot may soon have access to machine learning and natural language processing. The goal seems to be for Slackbot to automate things like scheduling meetings or resurfacing messages you were mentioned in but didn’t respond to. The goal is to turn mundane events like scheduling meetings or keeping tabs on a team into boilerplate issues. If a company were to use Slack as a hub to manage projects, a post from an employee about being stuck on that project may spark Slackbot’s interest.

The following video can give you a quick crash course how to build Slackbot to communicate with Google Analytics.

If you have more hardcore programming skills, you can see how to setup and control Slack using webhooks. You can appreciate technology and API support. Navigate here for more – Setting up and Using Slack Webhooks.

What is my conclusion? I think, Messenger platforms are extremely interesting and we are in the early beginning of learning how to bridge messengers with enterprise applications and services. It can solve many problems related to user experience we have in legacy enterprise software tools. CAD and PLM are good places to experiment. Think about design bot assistant or change management app robot. This is an interesting place for innovation and future tech experiments. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



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  • David Ewing Jr.

    Slack is an interesting tool. It is by no means a PLM tool – or anywhere near it. In fact it lacks the ability to markup/edit files – something that I believe is a basic need for a collaboration tool. But I digress…

    Slack as a platform that rides along with your PLM system makes alot of sense. I have been using it with my MBA cohort for some time and we find it very helpful – it has nearly eliminated email. This same sue case can be had for a typical Engineering department – virtual communications that are relevant to the development of the product are captured.

  • beyondplm

    Hi Dave, thanks for your comment! I’ve seen what Yoann did- thanks for sharing his blog. My “platform” proposal based on the assumption that PLM tools can provide a functionality that can be plug-in into Slack without replicating the infrastructure. Do you have a vision how to integrate Aras visual collaboration with Slack? Do you see it as a complementary, overlap? Thanks and look forward to your blog post. Best, Oleg

  • No doubt something Slack-like has relevance in a PLM future. But perhaps not Slack itself. Slack can be chaos depending on team size and behavior – and it works in replacing certain email chains which are also chaos but silo’d in individual inboxes.

    You look at PLM and you have workflow. Which immediately makes you think of linear, old things. But it’s highly structured, important when there’s regulatory consideration which for most product development these days is certainly the case.

    So if you could take workflow, add slack and divide by 2, that might be the beginning of something interesting.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, thanks for your comment! There are two answers here.

    1/ It is not about Slack, but about messenger-based platforms with heavy machine learning and AI components. Messenger is the interface and AI is a logic. IMO, this is a path away from “structured workflows”.

    2/ It is about Slack, which is a good environment. You build on top of and it used by many companies today.

    How to take slack+workflows/2? Sounds like a magic and fascinating formula. But what does it mean.

    Best, Oleg

  • David Ewing Jr.

    I think that there is a dichotomy issue that we need to wrestle with….conversations that are about the product should be captured by VC and stored with the product for reference. But the “watercoler” conversations are not IP and storing those would be a waste of space.

    I want to have both – ha. Dont we all! We are working on it.

    I could understand a firm deciding to use the Slack integration. That would allow entire business to use Slack. However, this direction would not connect the conversations to the items they relate to. Capturing this in the historical record is valuable. To enable this would need 2 way link to slack…to say “save this conversation to part123.”

  • beyondplm

    Does it mean you want to expose information from visual collaboration to Slack and capture conversation and store it in Aras? That would create redundancy between two systems and the value (according to your comment) is historical record. Did I get right your proposal?

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