Bringing apps into the team conversation

A conversation app is a hybrid like app that is deeply integrated into the team conversation: the app becomes indistinguishable from the messaging. The app is an “invisible hand” that improves collaboration by adding structure, overview, and governance to messages.

To understand the rationale for moving apps into the conversation, let’s take a look at some challenges with traditional business apps.

Collaboration with business apps

Large companies use an average of 129 different apps, according to a study by Okta, Inc., and the number is growing. Companies rely on traditional business apps to streamline operations in every part of the organization. Business apps are great tools for departmental teams that need to solve complex problems in specific domains.

Business apps are independent, and organize and store their own data. Many business apps support collaboration using chat-like features, and they all come with some kind of Slack integration.

Business apps are not that great for collaboration across organizational units and fields of expertise:

  1. They come with their own data silos, making it inherently difficult to share data.
  2. They are knowledge-based and not conversation-based, even though a few of them have chat-like features.
  3. They require some degree of domain expertise and have often steep learning curves.

It really boils down to this: How many business apps can you use on a daily basis?

Consider these scenarios:

A company experiences a serious data breach incident.
How can the management team follow the incident reponse in real-time to stay on top of the situation?

A salesrep reported a technical problem that could jeopardize a major deal.
How can they find the status of the bug report to keep the customer informed?

An engineering manager gets help from HR to recruit five more engineers.
How can they see the pipeline of candidates in the HR system?

The answer is very often: “They can’t.”

Incident management platforms, bug tracking software, and recruiting software are highly specialized apps which take time to learn.

The case for conversation apps

The 129 apps mentioned above create data silos and walls that add friction to collaboration, and make it more difficult to reach across the organization to share information or get feedback.

What if you could bring incident management, bug tracking, and recruitment processes into team conversations?
What if the incident response or bug report is only a click away?
What if the messaging platform becomes the app platform, where messaging and apps merge and become indistinguishable?

Conversation apps address the shortcomings of business apps by bringing apps into the team conversation without standing in the way for teamwork.

What is a Conclude app?

A Conclude app is a conversation app that implements a workflow or a task in your Slack workspace, such as handling approvals or managing incidents.

Conclude lets you create apps with interactive tools that are easy to use. You can also choose to write your own code if you’re a developer.

A Conclude app is built from a blueprint, which is a generic source code template for a workflow. The source code is based on the popular JSON format, and contains information such as:

  • Who should be invited to participate?
  • Information fields called attributes
  • Automated actions caused by triggers

As an example, a devops incident might contain:

  • Members: Everyone in the #incidents channel to participate.
  • Attributes: Fields containing an incident subject, details, and severity level.
  • Triggers: Send a message to #management if the severity level is ‘critical’.

Conclude comes with a number of blueprints that let you deploy a custom app super fast. Why spend weeks or months developing an internal Slack app for your team when you can roll out a Conclude app in minutes?

Deep integration with Slack

Conclude apps run natively inside Slack and use Slack channels, modal views, and messages for collaboration.

When somebody initiates a new workflow activity by reporting an incident, submitting a request for approval, or filing a bug report, Conclude will create a temporary channel. Here, the team can discuss and focus on this particular activity. The activity channel can be public or private, just like regular Slack channels.

The activity will stay open until someone concludes and closes the issue. The temporary channel will then be archived and disappears from the channel list in the Slack sidebar. You can still access the activity from Conclude Inbox, which contains an overview of all current and past activities you have access to.

Example: Managing incidents

A Conclude app is associated with a Slack channel. Our example app for devops incidents is installed in the #incidents channel.

When somebody reports a new incident, the Conclude app will automatically create a temporary channel #_incidents-1 where the incident team can discuss and analyze the incident. By default, the temporary channel name starts with an underscore so it gets sorted at the top of the channel list in the Slack sidebar.

The next incident will generate another temporary channel #_incidents-2. Each incident gets its own channel so the team doesn't have to deal with multiple incident reports in the same channel.

The open activity channels, #_incidents-1 and #_incidents-2 in the example above, represent the current activities that you are involved in. As activities are concluded and closed, Conclude will archive the respective channels, so they disappear from your channel list.

Conclude adds structure and governance to Slack collaboration

Conclude apps contain a set of attributes that represent information which is vital to a workflow:

  • There are multiple data types from text lines to popup menus with options.
  • Attributes can be mandatory or optional.
  • You can set access control for individual attributes.
  • Changing attributes can trigger certain actions.

When a user launches a Conclude app to start a new workflow, the app will open a modal Slack view where the user can enter data in a form, built from the set of attributes.

At the top of the temporary activity channel you will find a live information panel, built from the app’s attributes. The panel shows the current status of the activity, and can be updated by the channel members. With a live panel, you no longer need to search the entire channel discussion for important information.

We recommend that you go through the quickstart guide to understand how things work in practice.

Read more about attributes, triggers and other development topics in the developer’s guide.

Supercharge your team!

Bridge the collaboration gap with Conclude apps.