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Slack Introduces Actions, Google Launches New Hangouts Meet, More News

7 minute read
David Roe avatar
This week's round-up of digital workplace news from Slack, Google, SAP Jam and more.

To some, San Francisco-based Slack is a chat app with interesting bells and whistles. That’s not the vision of its founders though, and over the last year they have consistently added new communication capabilities to the app to make it more of an enterprise communication platform than a popular chat app that can help get work done.

The May 22 release of Actions is yet another move to make Slack a player in the enterprise space. Actions integrates directly with several digital workplace products to create notifications, project management tasks, ticket management and more directly from Slack. A blog post from Slack explained: “With Actions, you can turn any Slack message into a follow-up or next step, so nothing falls through the cracks as you go about your day .... Starting today, Actions are available for Jira, Bitbucket, Asana, Zendesk, HubSpot, and more.”

This basically means developers can create customized apps within Slack chat. If it sounds similar to Slackbots, it is, except now the environment has grown to more than 200,000 developers, which means more options and more possibilities to get work done from inside the main feed.

The integration with HubSpot for example makes it easier for sales teams to collaborate and close deals by creating tasks from Slack messages and associating them with a contact, company or deal in HubSpot. With the Asana integration, teams can get Asana updates in relevant channels, act on those updates and turn Slack messages into Asana tasks or comments — without leaving Slack.

The new Bitbucket Cloud integration allows teams to act on code repositories without leaving their Slack channel. More to the point, Bitbucket’s bot analyzes team’s usage and patterns and uses its smart notifications functionality to automate and personalize updates according to how teams work.

The bottom line is Actions make it easier to work, so nothing gets lost as you go about your day, and projects aren’t needlessly delayed. In addition to the apps mentioned above, Pocket, Guru, ToDo, and Teamline (formerly Busybot) integrations are also included in Actions, with more coming soon. Slack will be introducing these new integrations throughout the month, with mobile to follow.

In other digital workplace news ...

Google Migrates G Suite Users to Hangouts Meet

This week Mountain View-Calif.-based Google announced it is finally moving its G Suite users from its Hangouts video service to the new Hangouts Meet, which is an enterprise-ready edition of the Hangouts application. In a blog post about the move the company stated it would probably take about a month to finish the migration.

This means all newly created Calendar invites will now link to Meet video meetings, though Google stressed the change wouldn't affect previously created meetings.

The plans for Hangouts was announced at the company's Google Cloud Next conference in March 2017. At the conference, the company announced it was splitting Hangouts into Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat as well as introducing new enterprise-grade features for Google Drive in a play designed to give it more traction in the enterprise.

At the time, Scott Johnston, director of product management for Google Hangouts, explained the goal was to make connecting over video and chat more collaborative. He added that Hangouts Meet makes "joining meetings effortless so that people can be as productive as they are when they’re face-to-face" and described Hangouts Chat as "an intelligent communication app for teams."

Hangouts Chat includes dedicated, virtual rooms that "create a lasting home for each project." Threaded conversations make comments easy to follow and integration with G Suite enables shared content from Drive and Docs, or photos and videos to be viewed directly in conversations.

For the time being, admins can opt out of this transition and some may choose to do so because Meet doesn’t currently support Internet Explorer or Safari. Google expects that to be in place by the end of the year.

SAP Jam Makes Collaboration Accessible

Meanwhile, SAP Jam announced an accessibility update to its collaboration platform to make the platform usable for an undersupported group in the workplace: those with visual impairments. 

SAP Jam is SAP's cloud-based social collaboration platform which enables workers to collaborate and share documents and ideas around a topic or goal, instead of having to do so through emails and other avenues that are harder to manage and track.

While diversity is a hot topic in the tech industry, accessibility for workers is often swept under the rug. The new updates responds to the fact that screen readers are dependent on both visible and invisible content (HTML header elements that build the page). To help the screen readers understand the structure and organization of web pages, SAP Jam is adding HTML header elements to multiple pages across the platform, including the company home page, group overview page, group feed updates page and group content page.

Learning Opportunities

It is also adding support for various menus across SAP Jam when accessed using Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, including menus displayed in company home page, group overview page, and various sort/filter/action menus across groups.

Finally, content widgets have been enhanced to give an accurate focus on each content item, with the widget title and content item being correctly announced by screen readers. It’s a small addition but one that will make life a lot easier for people with visual impairments.

SocialChorus Raises $12.5 Million

San Francisco-based SocialChorus, developer of a workforce communications platform, announced it has secured $12.5 million in growth financing co-led by B2B software specialist Arrowroot Capital and Kohlberg Ventures, with participation from Western Technology Investment.

A joint statement from Gary Nakamura, CEO, SocialChorus and Greg Shove, founder and executive chairman, explained the money would be used to “invest in our customers and platform.” The statement added: “We’ve grown our sales, marketing, product, customer success, and strategic advisory teams and created customer forums and events, like FutureComms, where communicators swap stories and share their expertise. We help them stay ahead of the curve, not behind it.”

The company has added significant hires to support these efforts, including Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe as managing director, EMEA; Dave Lutz as vice president of client strategy and success; and Alison Murdock as chief marketing officer.

VMware, Okta Partner

Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware and San Francisco-based cybersecurity vendor Okta announced a new partnership and integration between VMware Workspace ONE and Okta Identity Cloud, enabling users to easily and more securely move to the cloud, leverage existing technology investments and simplify IT management.

The new product integration and support for customers includes deep contextual access management capabilities to support intelligent access decisions, enhanced user experience and application access, and increased choice and flexibility through Workspace ONE and Okta Identity Cloud. Okta, meanwhile, has also announced a deal to integrate its apps with Facebook Workplace business tools and Microsoft's enterprise software.

Howatson Leaves OpenText

Finally this week, it appears OpenText’s chief marketing officer, Adam Howaston, has left the Waterloo, Ontario-based company. While no official announcement has been made, Howatson's LinkedIn page indicates he left the company sometime in April.

In the line-up for the upcoming OpenText conference in July, Patricia E. Nagle is down as CMO and responsible for all marketing and demand generation initiatives, including field marketing, programs, events, product marketing, industry marketing, demonstrations, partners and alliances as well as inside sales.

Nagle joined the company in 2007 and most recently served as vice president of global partners and strategic alliances, managing all related activities, including business and operations management, strategy development, program management and go-to-market field execution.

OpenText’s Enterprise World 2018 takes place July 10 to July 12.