woman's arm holding a large group of brightly colored balloons
PHOTO: Buco Balkanessi

After a lot of speculation and build up, collaboration platform provider Slack went public on June 20, and a successful first day it was. Shares went 50% over the reference price by the end of trading, giving it an overall value of close to $20 billion.

The launch was a bit unusual in that the company chose to do a direct listing, where it made shares directly available on the stock exchange for $38.52, nearly 50 percent higher than the reference price set the day before.

What makes this launch even more exceptional is Slack has yet to make a profit. Slack is operating in what is one of the most competitive technology spaces, with email, communications, collaboration and productivity apps also offering some of the capabilities Slack already offers. The company faces strong competition from the likes of Microsoft, whose Teams offering provides a robust Office 365-based alternative, and Google’s G Suite, which also offers productivity tools. 

There are also the lessons of Atlassian to keep in mind. At the time Slack opened its doors, Atlassian was already offering HipChat, and went on to IPO in 2015. Last year, however, Slack bought Hip Chat and Stride from Atlassian and shut them down, while Atlassian moved its market focus to other technologies.

Yet Slack is holding its own, announcing in January that it had 10 million active users daily. At that time, Slack ascribed its popularity to the fact it brings people, data and applications into a single place where people can effectively work together, find important information, and get more out of the software they use every day through integrations with the platform.

Integrations include Google, Workday, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Atlassian and more than 1500 others. With this kind of muscle, it seems unlikely investors will get tired of Slack anytime soon. 

Digital Transformation: Tools and Jobs Outlook

Digital transformation processes, almost by definition, require new tools and new technologies. But with dozens of tools to choose from, what tools do enterprise use or plan to use to support their efforts?

Zigurat Innovation & Technology Business School, in collaboration with Setesca consultancy, took at deeper look at this question and found some interesting results in its "Future of Jobs in the Digital Era" report. 

Big data topped the list of the most widely implemented digital solutions, with 69.9% of the 307 companies surveyed identifying it as one of their "must-have" tools. After big data, the next most important technologies were:

  • Cloud Computing (56.5%)
  • CRM (52.2%)
  • Artificiel Intelligence (34.8%)

Respondents worked in companies based in Spain, Canada, US, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain and Colombia. More than 85% are implementing digital transformation processes, compared with 15% who admitted not having started their path towards digitalization yet. When asked about the digital solutions with the greatest impact on their current clients, predictive systems (33.3%) and blockchain technology (22.2%) stood out

One of the objectives of the research was to gauge the impact of digital transformation in the labor market and on new emerging professional profiles. Outside of pure technology, training in management (50%) or technical competencies (30.8%) could resolve the growing gap between potential market need and the availability of professionals prepared to meet it.

A final point worth noting is that while the majority of respondents (96.3%) admit that the implementation of digital tools and processes will improve the company's results in the short and medium term, and 62.5% of companies have invested more than $100,000 in implementing digital processes, no one seems to fear losing their jobs.

However, 50% of those surveyed predict that up to 25% of their tasks will be automated sooner rather than later, compared with 32.5% who see between 25% and 50% of their functions automated in the near future.

Nuxeo Unveils Insight Cloud

Nuxeo announced the immediate availability of Nuxeo Insight Cloud, its new artificial intelligence (AI) offering that enables enterprises to employ machine learning models non-technical users can use and train with their own specific data sets, according to the company. The announcement states the new offering will automate and deliver greater intelligence to content-driven processes.

The problem the solution aims to solve is one most businesses are familiar with: the lack of complete and accurate metadata. Metadata plays an important role in the workplace as a driver of effective search, workflows and more. The company claims Insight Cloud is the first content enrichment AI service designed for business users. Enterprises train Insight Cloud with their own data, which in turn produces business-specific machine-generated metadata values. The result is businesses can then work with more accurate and relevant AI models.

Insight Cloud is powered by the Nuxeo Platform, and provides two additional AI capabilities: a microservice which can describe content found in disparate systems like Box, Dropbox and other enterprise content management repositories. It also creates an auditable trail for any metadata values it produces, with each machine learning model assigned a version number.

Gmail Offers Dynamic Emails

Google this week announced it is pushing dynamic email in Gmail out into general availability. The new capabilities will be available as on July 2 and will launch by default for all domains. This means Gmail clients will need to disable it via the Google Admin console if they do not want the new functionality.

Dynamic email aims to bring email closer to the interactive apps readily available in other pockets of the web and away from its current static state. Dynamic email allows people to take action directly from within the message itself, such as RSVP to an event, fill out a questionnaire, browse a catalog or respond to a comment.

Take commenting in Google Docs, for example. Instead of receiving individual email notifications when someone mentions a user in a comment, users will be able to see an up-to-date thread in Gmail where you can easily reply or resolve the comment from within the message.

Like the rest of Gmail, dynamic email is safeguarded by best-in-class privacy and security protections.  Dynamic emails are already rolling out to Gmail users on the web, with mobile support expected soon.

Unily Raises $68 Million

Finally this week, digital workplace platform provider Unily announced it has successfully raised a $68 million investment from Silversmith Capital Partners and Farview Equity Partners.

Founded in 2005, Unily creates award-winning digital workplaces designed to improve collaboration, engage a geographically spread workforce and increase productivity.

The company has 120 employees based in the UK, the US and the Far East. Co-founder Will Saville said in a statement: "This investment will provide Unily with the potential to disrupt the global digital experiences marketplace at greater pace and with broader reach than ever before."