Harnessing the power of Slack bots and apps in the workplace

 

Instant messaging team chat apps like Slack are perhaps the most important breakthrough in workplace communication after email and IRC. While email is good for long-form, asynchronous communication, team chat apps are essential for the modern teams that move in real time.

All the team chat apps today allow using bots. Bots can be used either as an extension, or as a bot user whose actions can be controlled programmatically or by a webhook based system. Slack leads this area with its “apps” that even have the ability to post custom formatted content directly to the chat. These bots and apps can either be downloaded from the Slack app store or a team can build their own app to meet their requirements. Slack provides a Real-Time Messaging (RTM) API that can be used to give powers to bot users. Unlike the push-based Events API, the RTM API works over a websocket connection to maintain an always online state. Both of these APIs can be used to build custom solutions for challenges teams in an organization face. The number of apps a team can install is limited to 10 in Slack’s free pricing plan, while it is unlimited for the two paid plans.

 

Slack bots and apps have a use case for each department in an organization. Developers can use apps like GitHub to know when new code is pushed to a repository, or when a new issue is created or an old issue is resolved. Devops can use apps like Moss to monitor the server load in real time and take actions like launching new servers or setting up monitoring accordingly right from within Slack. They can use the integrations for Travis or the open source project Jenkins to know the current status of the CI/CD pipeline. The marketing and HR departments can use the Salesforce integration to set up alerts for important leads and meetings. The analytics department can use apps like Amplitude to share insights faster. All departments can use general-purpose apps like Polly for making interactive polls right in the chat, or Dropbox integration for managing shared files.

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