Slack is now using IBM's Watson technology

Machine learning is coming to Slack. Photo: Charles Pertwee/ Getty Images for SoftBank.

Slack and IBM have cut a deal that will see the instant messaging service leverage the tech giant’s cognitive computing and AI technologies, otherwise known as Watson.

As a brief explainer for anyone unfamiliar with Watson, it is a cognitive computing system, in development since 2005, that famously won on the “Jeopardy!” TV quiz show in 2011.

Watson will allow developers using Slack to create more offerings, including bots, that will transform the platform’s user experience and functionality.

IBM’s Watson Conversation will also help to power Slack’s customer service bot, Slackbot, to improve the accuracy and efficiency of trouble-shooting on the platform.

“Slack and IBM share the same vision for how AI can transform workplace efficiency, and we recognize the important role developers are playing as they tap into cognitive technology to improve this part of our lives,” said David Kenny, general manager, IBM Watson.

“By combining Slack’s digital workplace capabilities and Watson’s cognitive computing power, one of our first steps is to make it easier for developers to build cognitive-enabled bots and solutions for the Slack platform. From there, we think there will be many more ways we can collaborate and help propel productivity in new ways.”

In September, Business Insider spoke to Bob Lord, IBM’s chief digital officer role, about how IBM is trying changing its “mindset” to appeal to startups and developers.

“Developers that work for companies make a lot of choices that are very strategic to the company. So we shouldn’t just worry about the the CMO and CIO experience. Entrepreneurs and startups, a lot of those people are developers, people that code all the time and have a crazy wacky idea that becomes Facebook,” Lord said at the time.

“The key is, if they don’t know about IBM products, they go to competitors. The challenge is that we can’t market to developers. You have to inspire them to join a revolution and they have to come on a journey with you. The journey is to the cognitive era of computing. If you want to be a developer that teaches a computer how to code, you want to be with IBM. This huge aspirational thing is such an opportunity for IBM to really lead the market,” he added.

It looks like Lord’s plan is coming to fruition.

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