What Slack AI does and how to get it

  • Salesforce has started to roll out Slack AI.
  • Slack AI is billed as a way to save time by summarising messages and providing contextual search based on data shared within Slack.
  • Apps that form part of Slack’s partner ecosystem can now also leverage AI.

Many businesses around the world make use of Slack. While it started life as an internal communication platform, it launched to the public in 2013. Today, the platform is owned by Salesforce, and like so many of its products, AI is coming to Slack.

Starting today, businesses can head here to apply for access to Slack AI, a generative AI experience that is built into Slack itself. Access will come at a cost although what that cost is isn’t currently public knowledge.

While we often lament the inclusion of AI in seemingly every piece of software around, Slack AI may be rather useful for some users who tend to be away from their computer for a while.

Salesforce is marketing the solution as a way to avoid having to spend an hour catching up on the conversations in a channel. With a tap of a button, Slack AI can generate summaries of the messages in a channel including the highlights from that channel. The same functionality is available for Threads where users can catch up on a long conversation with an AI-generated summary.

The search functionality of the new offering is by far the most impressive addition to the platform.

According to the demos Hypertext has seen, a user can ask a question about a particular project and Slack AI will provide accurate answers, with links to back up its answer. That note about there being links that one can click and see to confirm or get additional context is vital in a business environment where accurate information matters.

Slack AI search in action.

Some of the ways AI enhances Slack’s search include:

  • Learn about a new marketing campaign or project 
  • Get up to speed on company policies, such as the deal approval process
  • Find internal subject-matter experts to resolve an engineering incident
  • Glean insights about past decisions from historical context
  • Define unfamiliar acronyms

As a starting point, this is good and Salesforce says it intends to invest in Slack AI further. Plans for the future include digests that summarise key highlights from channels you want to keep an eye on but don’t require immediate attention. This may be good for an IT team for example where network problems could be spotted in highlights of users complaining about the speed of the network before it fails.

For even more AI functionality, apps for Slack from its partner ecosystem are also now able to leverage AI. PagerDuty Copilot can be integrated to surface insights, suggest solutions and streamline incident response.

Perplexity will allow users to subscribe to topics where updates can be fed into Slack and shared in channels to spark discussion or ideas.

“At Perplexity, we’re building the next generation answer engine, applying the most advanced LLMs to make knowledge instant and accessible. Now with Perplexity Push, we’re delivering an enterprise integration that brings AI-powered insights directly into Slack. Teams can easily stay in-the-know on topics they care about where conversations and collaboration already happens,” chief executive officer at Perplexity, Aravind Srinivas was quoted as saying.

What is most important is that it won’t be using your business’ data for training. We do recommend that when integrating apps from Slack’s partner ecosystem you check that they follow the same thinking and aren’t using your data for training purposes.

Salesforce claims that by using Slack AI, firms such as SpotOn, Uber and Anthropic saved as much as 97 minutes per user each week. We suspect that mileage varies depending on your business, how much time is spent on Slack and more.

We should point out that all it is really doing is cutting down how much time you need to spend reading through your messages. It’s also not clear how well Slack AI performs and whether it misses any crucial information in its summaries.

As mentioned, you need to apply for access to Slack AI and there is no word on how much that access costs just yet.


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