Slack Treads Cautiously with ChatGPT API

Generative AI holds immense potential to accelerate innovation for SaaS companies
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Since the release of ChatGPT, there has been a whirlwind of experiments by enterprises and developers to create new platforms and integrate them with existing products and services. AIM contacted Slack, one of the most-popular instant messaging platforms, to inquire about their plans to integrate the ChatGPT API.

In an exclusive interaction with Analytics India Magazine, Rahul Sharma, country manager-India at Slack, said they are excited about the opportunities generative AI solutions like ChatGPT could unlock. 

Generative AI holds the potential to accelerate innovation for SaaS companies. Venture Capitalists David Sacks believes Generative AI will be for SaaS what mobile was for Web 1.0, SaaS companies will either be disrupted or turbocharged by it.

Microsoft Teams, one of Slack’s close competitors, announced that it will leverage the power of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5-powered large language models (LLMs) to enhance meetings with increased intelligence, personalisation, and security. 

“We’re always looking for ways to responsibly innovate our platform with ethical guardrails and guidance to catch potential problems before they happen,” Sharma added in this regard.

Created as an internal tool for a gaming company, Slack quickly gained popularity due to its ease of use and ability to improve team communication and productivity. It boasts 12 million daily active users in 150 countries. Moreover, nearly 43% of Fortune 100 companies have a paid subscription to Slack.

The collaboration platform announced the launch of data residency in India last year. The announcement comes as part of the company’s expansion plans in the country, given the large user base it has established. “India is one of the largest markets of both paid and free users for Slack,” Sharma said.

The Slack India team has grown to over 120 employees across their offices in Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Gurgaon. “Some of the largest tech companies in the country, such as Zomato, Dreamsports, Freecharge and Razorpay are Slack customers,” he said.

Read:  Salesforce’s Strange Quarter Exposes a Shaky SaaS Model

Indian enterprises using Slack

“We have a significant footprint among big global tech companies with a major presence in India, like IBM, Amazon, Oracle and Intuit. India is often referred to as the ‘back office of the world’, and those large systems integrators, like Wipro, TCS, are also a major focus for Slack,” Sharma said.

Fintech unicorn Razorpay was, in fact, born on Slack, Sharma revealed. It has helped the business automate common tasks and save time on troubleshooting issues. Similarly, Slack is helping Freecharge ship quality code faster, improve service reliability, and stay engaged in an increasingly remote workplace.

At Meesho, Slack has had a positive impact on every team, according to Sharma. “It has been successful in helping them build an open and remote work culture and has helped them welcome new employees by connecting with Slack.”

As far as Zomato is concerned, with Slack, it is now easier for the food delivery platform to engage with external stakeholders and partners. “On the tech side, Slack integrations make sure that the right teams are alerted of any issues right away,” Sharma added.

Why is India a strategic market?

In India, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market is growing exponentially with nearly 1,600 companies receiving funding in 2022 compared to 1,000 in 2019. Investment in the Indian SaaS also reached an all-time high of USD 5 billion in 2022, according to a report by Bain and Company.

Despite facing significant headwinds, the Indian SaaS ecosystem is gaining momentum and has emerged a global leader in scale and maturity, second only to the US, the report stated.

For Slack, India is important because the country has a very large free user base, meaning many companies are signing up for a free Slack account. This means there is a high level of awareness about Slack among Indian enterprises. “That’s our ‘freemium’ model, and it is one of the reasons we have seen Slack emerge and grow in popularity in other markets all around the world. India is no different,” Sharma said.

Already, an increasing number of those free users are signing up for the business version of Slack, Sharma revealed. “We are seeing growth happen organically that way. Large and mid-market enterprises come to us directly. These companies usually have technical departments already using Slack and the value expands over time to other departments, and they tend to go, what we call, ‘wall-to-wall’ across the company.”

Further, there are those digital-first companies that were born in the cloud and have built their businesses on Slack. Indian companies such as Zomato, Meesho, Dreamsports, Razorpay, Freecharge, Schbang and Springworks are ‘all in’ on Slack. 

Further, India is the second-largest SMB market in the world after China, and this makes it attractive for scaling Slack aided by very low barriers to entry and very high usability of the product.

“SMBs are looking at speed over size. They have a less complex model when compared to large organisations with respect to decision-making and workflow. Employee experience is of paramount importance for them, so they are keenly aware of providing the technology and tools their people love to use. Using Slack, in fact, becomes a competitive advantage for them,” Sharma concluded.

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Pritam Bordoloi
I have a keen interest in creative writing and artificial intelligence. As a journalist, I deep dive into the world of technology and analyse how it’s restructuring business models and reshaping society.

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