Slack and Oracle Team Up

The demand to integrate various communications applications and services with other business applications is nothing new; we hear it from Enterprise Connect attendees year after year – "We just want stuff to work with our other stuff." But in recent years, we are actually starting to see some significant steps taken toward a more integrated world.

One area where strides readily can be seen is within team collaboration -- which makes sense, given that many of the products that have been coming to market in this space, like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Cisco Spark, and Workplace by Facebook, are being positioned as platforms. They are created with the very intent of being able to connect with other vital business applications and serve as a sort of home base where all work happens.

And within the team collaboration market space, Slack continues to announce new partnerships and integrations aimed at realizing this goal. Building on the momentum Slack has achieved with similar partnerships with IBM, Salesforce, SAP, Google, and ServiceNow, the company this week announced it is teaming up with Oracle.

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The goal with the partnership is to make it easy for joint customers to access Oracle cloud data and applications from within the Slack interface. To this end, Oracle brings to the table its Intelligent Bot Platform, which is a suite of bot frameworks to connect Slack with applications like Oracle ERP Cloud and HCM Cloud. Through interacting with chat bots that live in Slack, users can ask the ERP bot, for example, for a new computer, and the bot can surface up five laptop options that the employer has approved purchasing for that individual's job. As another example, users could ask the HCM bot how many PTO days they have left this year and the bot can tap into the HCM Cloud to pull the data and provide a response.

As Suhas Uliyar, VP of Bots, AI, and Mobile Product Management at Oracle, told me in a recent briefing, these frameworks can be easily customized by enterprise customers -- developers and business workers alike -- using a tool called the Oracle Bot Builder, to achieve the integrations that make the most sense for a given enterprise's particular workflows.

To start, notification-only versions of these bots are available out of the box, with two to three bot frameworks available today -- bots for connecting with data from Oracle ERP Cloud and HCM Cloud, as well as a bot that's in the works to surface employee directory data. A company's Oracle account rep just has to turn on the bots. However, moving forward, Oracle plans to ultimately have between 30-40 of these bot frameworks for a variety of different use cases, Uliyar said.

Oracle sees the most potential for this partnership coming from its DevOps customer base. "I can't give you complete numbers, but we've been actively speaking to customers about these bots for about six to eight months, and have them in prototypes for about 12 organizations," Uliyar said. "My team has spoken to about 200 enterprise customers in the past several months -- 80-90% of the companies we speak to are using Slack."

This overlap in customer bases is just part of what led to the formation of the partnership, however. Uliyar gave additional reasons. "We're both focused on the enterprise," he said, referencing the push Slack has made toward the enterprise over the past year with its Enterprise Grid product version. Additionally, both companies have been focusing on how to make things easier for developers. To hit its DevOps sweet spot, "we wanted to make it simple to interface with a chatbot that has administrative functions." Further, Uliyar sees partnerships like this as helping the ecosystem. By that, he means that third parties can easily build out bots with these frameworks and create specialized integrations in less than an hour.

Oracle has 30,000 seats on Slack Enterprise Grid itself. "We're a huge Slack user," Uliyar said. "We don't use public channels like WeChat and WhatsApp like we would in our personal lives. The whole idea with this partnership is we can use our platform to enable employee-facing bots in the same channel where we and many other organizations work. Enterprise developers are using Slack because of the enterprise focus and we are unlocking the data potential we have by enabling these 'conversations' to take place between Slack and our various systems of record."

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