IBM has remained at the forefront of innovation for more than a century. That’s why for the past several years, the iconic tech giant has relied on both Slack and Salesforce to transform the way employees work, communicate, and serve customers.
In today’s hybrid work environment, it has only gotten more important for teams to stay connected and productive from anywhere. In fact, the company’s 350,000 global employees now send 16 million Slack messages a day.
We spoke with Jennifer Kady, Vice President of Global Markets Sales at IBM, about how the company combines Slack and Salesforce to power its global operations and enable its vision for a new digital HQ.
Q. When and why did IBM transition to Slack?
We’ve been using Slack for about four years. We were looking for best-in-class technology that could integrate with other platforms and applications. Slack has turbocharged our productivity, both as individuals and teams. By enabling real-time and just-in-time collaboration, it allows us to reduce the number of emails and meetings and connect more quickly. It also provides the security we need and, through Slack Connect, lets us collaborate with clients, vendors, and partners.
For most of us at IBM, Slack has now become the primary way we communicate. Over the years, it has only continued to prove an invaluable investment.
Q. Since the pandemic hit, how has Slack helped IBM transition to a remote and increasingly hybrid work environment?
Coming into the pandemic, we had the advantage of already being a Slack user. We had the infrastructure in place, so it wasn’t a heavy lift for us to transition to working from home. It made a huge difference to have one single, secure platform to communicate.
Inevitably, the way we work will continue to change. We’ll be working from everywhere — home, client locations, the office, on the fly after a meeting. Slack gives us the ability to react quickly and stay connected securely.
Q. How is IBM using Slack Connect, and what impact has it had on the company?
We’ve found a lot of utility in Slack Connect, which lets us bring on vendors or clients as guest users and collaborate with them efficiently and securely. It gives us an open line of communication, so if any issues or concerns come up with our external partners, we can address them immediately.
Slack Connect also helps us avoid overtaxing people or wasting time. Instead of waiting for a group of people to get on a call, they can add input as needed when they’re available or when they’ve completed a task. We all know what it’s like to be pulled in many different directions, and this helps us ensure we have the right people and resources in the right place, while respecting individuals’ calendars and time. We have nearly 100,000 guest users across our client base, and we’d love to see that continue to grow.
Q. How has Slack helped your sales teams close deals faster?
Increasingly, we’re using Slack Connect to move deals to the finish line more efficiently.
We’re not waiting for someone to react to an email or go through a cycle of approvals. Instead, we have a direct connection to the people in charge on the client side and to our team members in contracts, negotiations, and delivery.
Everything is streamlined, and everyone — both internally and externally — can be in the same channel.
Q. Are there other ways Slack is helping your teams do their best work?
Absolutely. We have thousands of different workflow integrations, many of which can be triggered through Slack. We can use Slack to issue approvals, highlight support issues, provide transcription and translation for employees around the world, and much more. We’re all connected, regardless of role.
There’s less friction and context-switching, which makes us more efficient and reduces time to value. As a result, we can avoid missteps and roadblocks, and also be proactive and show clients we really care about their business.
Q. What does the phrase “digital HQ” mean to you?
A digital mindset is part of our DNA. To me, digital HQ is about making the historic shift to a digital-first world of work and curating an experience for employees, customers and partners that’s effective and relevant.
As an employee, I want to come in every day and know I’m making a difference. I don’t want to wade through hundreds of applications to home in on what’s relevant for my work and development. Digital HQ is about simplifying and curating the appropriate tools.
It’s also about being willing to change. Our needs today are not the same as they were five years ago, and the same will be true five years from now. For us, that means digital HQ acts as a platform that can grow and evolve over time and allow us to react quickly.
Q. Now that Slack is officially part of Salesforce, what are you excited about as a customer of both?
I’m a big fan of both Salesforce and Slack, and they will be even better together.
For example, Sales Cloud has been extremely effective for our sales community. A lot of different activities take place within Sales Cloud, whether we’re working on an opportunity or an account. Now, by making Slack the primary way our sales community interacts with Sales Cloud, we’ll be able to streamline communications among our ecosystem partners, digital team, and face-to-face sellers. And by taking this approach, Sales Cloud data is now served up directly to our sales communities directly within Slack, where they are already working.
It’s a powerful mechanism for getting to know our clients better, organizing data in one place, and providing a meaningful direction for everyone to work toward.
Q. How are Salesforce and Slack together uniquely positioned to create the digital HQ?
Bringing all this data and all these capabilities together into a seller’s toolkit gives them the ability to be bold and confident. They know they’re working with the right template, the right proposal, the right enablement, with the most accurate information — all of that has been updated in one spot. If they’re light in a certain area, they can do that research directly from the platform when they need it.
Together, Slack and Salesforce are making our team members more agile and effective, which helps them deliver greater value for a client and grow the business. In turn, team members who can access what they need in a user-friendly way and feel like they’re making a difference are happier employees.