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Slack looks to drive product adoption in India with expanded presence

Slack is doubling down on its India presence to help accelerate the adoption of its workplace messaging app as people increasingly adopt remote or hybrid work models.

The company, now owned by business software maker Salesforce, announced on June 1 the launch of its customer-facing functions that will help organisations better adopt Slack. This includes marketing, customer success, solution engineering, pre-sales and sales functions.

India is one of the largest free user bases for Slack and among its top 10 markets for paid teams across the world, it said.

“Because of our freemium business model, we find that there are a lot of organizations who are starting to embrace the technology and once that tipping point of the free user base becomes large enough, you got to have momentum behind helping people adopt the product and enabling organizations go from what we see as an early start in the tech and dev space, to what we call as wall-to-wall inside an organization” Rahul Sharma, India Country Manager, Slack told Moneycontrol.

Slack established a product engineering team in Pune in 2018 after acquiring the productivity startup Astro. Since then, the team has expanded from 13 people to over 80 people.

Over the past year, Slack also built a go-to-market function of 40 people. Overall, the company has over 120 employees across four offices in Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Gurugram.

“Our go-to-market motion is built up on engaging with enterprise organisations, the ones who bring in Slack as a technology inside the ecosystem from their tech and dev team, and then expand from there to other functions in the company” Sharma said.

Startups to big tech

He said India’s SMB market was a big area of focus for Slack along with the startup ecosystem, with the company counting several unicorns, soonicorns (soon-to-be unicorns) and digital native businesses as customers. Its India clients include Meesho, Zomato, Dreamsports, Freecharge, and Razorpay.

Sharma said that a lot of Slack’s global customers, including large technology companies such as IBM, Oracle, Amazon, and Intuit, had significantly large workforces in the country due to which “a lot of usage comes in from within the region as well”.

“Also unique to India is the large Indian-headquartered tech firms and system integrators such as TCS and Wipro, who not only use it themselves as a customer but also partner with us to take that technology to their customers” he said.

Slack is also tapping into Salesforce’s India presence for its customer outreach.

“Slack teams are closely working alongside the Salesforce team here in India. A lot of our go-to-market motions and the way we engage with our customers is starting to stitch together and I think there is real value for customers. Right now, you may use a Salesforce Sales Cloud separately and you will not have a way of integrating that with something which cuts across inside an organization. Slack can be a system of engagement in these cases” Sharma said.

During the event, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield also elaborated on his vision for a digital headquarters (HQ) and how the coronavirus pandemic was changing work, offering a natural growth opportunity to the company.

“The reliance we have developed on synchronous work and getting people to do things at the same time is really inefficient. It also makes work more stressful and more difficult.

“For instance, about 40-50 percent of the hours that went into Zoom meetings would have been more productively spent if people thoughtfully write out their ideas, make demonstrations, and draw diagrams and let others respond in their own time” Butterfield said.

“As employers come to reckon with that desire for flexibility, Slack has a key role to play in enabling a little bit more fluidity between the synchronous and asynchronous work” he added.

Butterfield said that the concept of digital HQ isn’t necessarily a new thing

“What was really interesting about the pandemic transformation to me was that it underscored the fact that there was this digital infrastructure that supported productivity and collaboration. And I don’t know when the switchover happened, but sometime in the last few decades, it became more important than the physical HQ” he said.

“We have invested too much time, attention, effort, money in the physical HQ in proportion to what we could have spent. I think the best world is one where we can blend a little bit of both” Butterfield added. Moneycontrol

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