Slack, IBM work on AI tools for developers

Tech unicorn Slack is working with IBM to help developers to build cognitive-enabled bots and products for work leveraging Watson and Slack APIs.

IBM is bringing Slack’s technology into its work environment for IBM professionals and has a substantial number of IBM employees using Slack across teams such as marketing, design and engineering. Together, IBM and Slack plan to jointly create and develop new solutions for enterprise teams. Last week, Slack revealed a milestone announcement of four million daily active users, with 1.25vmillion paid seats.

The plan is that developers can access the range of Watson services -- such as Conversation, Sentiment Analysis or speech APIs -- and build new tools for the platform with this enhanced cognitive functionality.

As a first step, IBM and Slack intend to develop new and improved communications tools for users of the Slack platform, including an updated Slackbot to be powered by Watson and an IBM Watson-enabled bot for IT and network operations. IBM and Slack also plan to share learnings from the creation of these tools with developers as part of ongoing educational efforts, and the companies plan to offer specialized tutorial resources to accelerate how developers can tap into Watson:

Slack Intends to Adopt Watson Conversation for Slackbot: To further strengthen the Slack user experience, Slack intends to adopt Watson Conversation as a technology that helps power its Slackbot -- the platform’s popular customer service bot. This integration will improve the accuracy and efficiency of trouble-shooting on the platform. Since the tool uses Watson machine learning, it can become more accurate over time.

IBM is building a Watson-enabled Slack chatbot for IT and network operational incidents, so enterprise teams can more efficiently identify, address and fix these issues. The solution provides conversational interactions and resolution recommendations between a Slack channel and traditional Cloud, IT, and Network Operations tools. Once a team integrates it, users will no longer toggle between communications tools and resources to resolve an issue, as the bot centralizes trouble-shooting in one channel. Also, because of Watson’s machine learning technology, as the bot gathers data from previous conversations, it can more quickly and accurately address similar issues over time.

IBM and Slack will offer tools that make it easier for developers to integrate into Slack. IBM will release a Botkit Watson middleware plugin that allows the Watson Conversation service to talk to Slack and other messaging channels. The plugin will be made available on Github for easy access. Additionally, the companies will offer an Application Starter Kit that provides resources to developers for getting started, such as code and step-by-step instructions for building on the Slack platform.

“Slack and IBM share the same vision for how Ai can transform workplace efficiency, and we recognize the important role developers are playing as they tap into cognitive technology to improve this part of our lives,” said David Kenny, general manager, IBM Watson. “By combining Slack’s digital workplace capabilities and Watson’s cognitive computing power, one of our first steps is to make it easier for developers to build cognitive-enabled bots and solutions for the Slack platform. From there, we think there will be many more ways we can collaborate and help propel productivity in new ways.”