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Slack expands footprint in APAC

Slack’s Singapore operations remains the epicentre of its growth in the region and will fuel its expansion into markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines

Slack has expanded its footprint in Asia-Pacific with a new office in Singapore to tap into the region’s growing demand for cloud-based collaboration software.

Speaking to Computer Weekly on the sidelines of Salesforce Live in Singapore, Slack’s country manager for the city-state, Shweta Verma, said that in less than three quarters, the local office has grown its headcount to 30 employees, underscoring the growth momentum in the region.

Salesforce completed its $27.7bn acquisition of Slack in July 2021, bringing the latter’s collaboration capabilities to its suite of cloud-based applications used by sales, commerce, IT and customer service teams. Technology analyst firm Gartner described the buyout as a revolutionary move that would position Salesforce more strongly and broadly in digital workplaces and employee experience.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we got the benefit of Salesforce’s investment into Slack to fast-track our product roadmaps, and to hire and show our commitment to the region,” said Verma.

For a while, Slack’s Asia-Pacific footprint was concentrated in Australia, one of the most mature markets in the region for cloud-based collaboration tools, from which it peddled its software to other customers in Asia.

But with the “hyper-growth” that Slack had seen on the back of half a million users, even without fielding sales reps in the region, Verma said the company gained the confidence to invest in local teams after the Salesforce acquisition was completed.

Slack’s Singapore office follows the launch of its Indian outfit last year, but the city-state remains the epicentre of its growth in the region. “Some of our largest marquee wins have come from the likes of home-grown Singaporean companies like Grab, which has more than 24,000 employees now using Slack,” said Verma.

Being in Singapore – a regional financial hub with a vibrant financial technology startup landscape – has also opened up opportunities for Slack to penetrate the financial services sector, which accounted for the bulk of its customer wins in the last quarter, she said.

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Following the launch of its Singapore presence, Slack has hired a team in Thailand and will soon build a team in Singapore to serve customers in other Southeast Asian markets, such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, said Verma.

As a sales executive, Verma has experienced first-hand the benefits of the tighter integration between Salesforce and Slack. For one, she no longer spends hours conducting forecast calls with her team – instead, she creates automated workflows for her team to submit sales forecasts, which are, in turn, rolled up into a report that she can easily pull up.

The synergy with Salesforce is already drawing more customers to Slack. Verma said in the last three quarters, almost 40% of Slack’s customers have been Salesforce customers.

That said, she noted that nearly 76% of Slack’s clients are also customers of other tech suppliers that compete with Salesforce. “That’s the beauty of Slack – it has a great fan base from Salesforce, but at the same time, we are quite product-agnostic in the sense that we coexist with the likes of Microsoft and other competitive players.”

That is where integrations with other business applications become critical and necessary for non-Salesforce customers to benefit from Slack’s workflow automation capabilities.

“Developers love us because it’s so much easier for them to build and code within the app as well as integrate with in-house applications that they have,” said Verma. “We encourage that, especially for our large enterprise customers, for which we also have professional services teams to help them.”

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