Slack is creating enterprise process orchestration platform

Slack is creating enterprise process orchestration platform


After decades of using emails threads and sequential workflow diagrams for collaboration in enterprise, the shift is coming – welcome to  interactive communication. It can provides a new way to simplify communication user experience and to change a way systems and people are working together and managing processes.

You can ask… well, how is that related to PLM systems? Here is the thing, workflows and change management systems will be replaced by chatbots. The communication is shifting from slow email exchange to instant messaging. All together it means the end of old PLM workflows as we know it.

As PLM industry is moving forward to rethink what can be a foundation of a new PLM platform, I found Slack story very interesting. I’ve been following Slack development as well as gathering some personal experience with Slack (disclaimer – my current company openBoM is using Slack as communicating tool). I can certainly see how Slack can become a foundation for the future PLM platform and I think Slack can be a tool engineers will actually want to work with.

I found an interesting announcement made by Slack earlier today. Slack is launching Enterprise Grid version and introduce some very interesting intelligent search functions combined together with chatbot connectors to enterprise systems such as SAP and some others. Here are few links to articles you can catch up on the news – Slack takes aim at the corporate sector with Enterprise Grid, adds bots from SAP; Slack is expanding its team chat app to work with the largest companies, Introducing Slack Enterprise Grid. Here is my favorite passage:

You may wonder what Slack means by calling its product “Grid”. The concept here seems to be one of creating federations of teams that can then interlink workspaces with each other when and where they have to but also work independently of each other to remain efficient. (The logic here is that if a business has thousands of users, you wouldn’t have a place where all of them communicated, it would be too noisy.)

“We wanted to give Slack the flexibility to work as teams, but they were still falling back to email when they worked with each other,” April Underwood, Slack’s VP of product, said in an event today where Slack debuted Grid.

Today, when you create channels in normal Slack, anyone can add people from your team to the channel. In Grid, the idea here is that each team will have an administrator who will be given the option to do this. Ultimately, IT administrators will be able to control what each of these secondary administrators are able to provision, including linking teams together.

What I specially like is the ability to administer communication between people by providing policies, setting up teams and communication protocols. This is a great beginning of replacement of old fashion workflows by new type of communication. Integration with enterprise tools are special interesting since they will build a bridge to bring a platform like Slack to enterprises.

What is my conclusion? Slack is on mission to bring all your PLM process communication together in one place. A paradigm shift is coming to collaboration tools. Old-fashion workflows are dying and going to be replaced by a new instant messaging, process bots and chatbot agents. Will PLM vendors adopt Slack communication or keep managing old workflow type services to manage communication between PLM system users? So, here is a question – as Slack is moving forward to win the future of enterprise collaboration, what PLM vendors can do about it in the next 5-7 years. One option is build another PLM silo. Another option is to use Slack as a platform. PLM architects and strategists, please take a note.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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  • Frank Goenninger

    Hi Oleg,
    I am wondering how Slack is different from e.g. Atlassian’s HipChat – which is even integrated to tools like JIRA. Slack is, for me, just another communication tool. Or do I misunderstand something? Why would you choose Slack over HipChat? (No, I don’t want to argue about specific tools, but rather would like to understand the difference in user benefits). Thanks!

  • beyondplm

    Frank, thanks for asking! HipChat is clearly a competitor. As well as SharePoint and some other products. I remember back in 2007, SharePoint was a big deal. So, somehow Slack found a magic formula, at least for the moment. I can speculate why, but there are so many articles online already doing so, you better google “why slack is different” :). Slack API is impressive and the number of integrations is amazing.