I have a confession. Last year I attended an online business meeting, except I was only actually there for the first five minutes. A diary clash meant I had to be in another online meeting at the same time, so I switched my camera off, switched my AI assistant on and let it capture the meeting for me. Nobody was any the wiser.
Now Slack is raising the prospect of AI regularly attending meetings on your behalf. Can’t make your morning team Huddle? Relax. Switch on the forthcoming Slack GPT and let it transcribe and summarise the meeting for you. Have 20 minutes of your work day back.
Welcome to the era of being there without actually being there: they don’t call it Slack for nothing.
Of course, there’s a limit to what you can get away with by having AI attend meetings for you. It’s fine for meetings where you’re being spoken at and not expected to contribute. But we’re not yet at the stage where the AI can make a meaningful contribution on your behalf. Although, we’re perhaps closer to that than you may realise…
Sam Liang, CEO and founder of Otter.ai – a service that provides live transcriptions and summaries of online meetings – told me earlier this year that it’s well within scope for your AI representative to soon be answering questions in meetings on your behalf, based on what it’s learnt from previous meetings.
“I’ve been using AI in Otter for six years,” he told me. “I talked to a lot of venture capitalists, I talked to a lot of candidates when we interviewed them. Our internal meetings, I attend in Otter. So somebody could… even if I’m on vacation, ask my Otter assistant some questions in a meeting and it should be able to answer that question based on my knowledge in the past.”
Slack GPT arrives
Slack’s AI ambitions are more limited for the time being. Slack GPT will certainly capture Huddles or bring you up to speed by summarising unread messages in a Slack channel if you’ve been out of the office for a bit, but the company thinks the real power of AI will emerge when it’s let loose on your customer data. And here, finally, we’re beginning to see why Salesforce spent the thick end of $30 billion to acquire Slack in 2021.
“For example, say you have a workflow that alerts you when a new lead comes in from Sales Cloud, ensuring sales reps can quickly respond,” reads a post on the Slack blog, announcing its AI plans. “Imagine if ChatGPT could take your workflow a few steps further, using CRM data from a sales lead to draft a personalised prospecting email?”
The company is also developing a separate app called Einstein GPT, designed to pull insights from customer data captured in Salesforce apps. “For example, say you’re a customer service agent who needs help resolving a case,” the company explains.
“Today you can use the Service Cloud app to start a case swarm, bringing together the right experts in a dedicated Slack channel to find a resolution. In the future, imagine if Einstein GPT could auto-generate case summaries using relevant data from Service Cloud and your Slack channel. Now case summaries could not only capture data from service tickets, but knowledge from the team who resolved the case too.”
Slack hasn’t put a firm date on when its AI products will arrive, merely suggesting they’ll show up later this summer. In the meantime, you’ll have to keep turning up to those meetings yourself.
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