Stewart Butterfield says chatbots make work more efficient. Chatbots make Slack "the browser and command line for the enterprise."
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Chatbots
I wonder if Jewel has Slack on her phone. I wonder if Jewel uses Chatbots.
One of Slack's internal mantras is "work hard, go home." Chatbots help with this vision:
"The most productive employees from my experience are those who go home at 5:30 p.m. but are hyperfocused at work," Butterfield said at a press gathering on Friday. "People can only think really hard for six to eight hours a day."
But it's not so easy to be productive at all times in today's work environment. A lot of files are spread across different software, and it's not always easy to find answers to simple questions like where's the latest version of a certain file. Slack, for instance, uses 80 different pieces of software even though it has only about 350 employees.
Butterfield wants to fix this. And he believes he has an answer in Slack, the work communication app that has helped his startup get to a $3.8 billion valuation in a little over two years.
At the center of his idea is a chatbot, the technology that lets users access third-party app content right within chat programs like Slack, bypassing the need to open up another app to see it. For example, users can find sales data from Salesforce or to submit expense reports for Concur right within Slack's interface. Butterfield sees a future in which Slack becomes smarter and more intelligent as it gathers more data, eventually automating some of the most repetitive tasks, like finding who is leading what project.
"It's an opportunity for us, where Slack becomes the browser and the command line for the enterprise," he says.
Butterfield of course doesn't see this happening overnight. Slack surpassed 3 million daily active users only recently, and most of its customers are small teams or businesses. That makes it hard to build an automated system the way Google has simply because it doesn't have enough data.
But a lot of people believe in Butterfield's vision as he has been able to raise almost all of the $540 million in VC funding over the past two years. And he thinks Slack will end up making everybody smarter and more efficient over time.
"Having a bot allows you to immediately answer those questions," Butterfield says. "It's incredibly powerful."