When the economic shutdown to bring COVID-19 to heel hit, the power of the cloud and mobility was unleashed -- albeit haphazardly. Organizations were sent scrambling to set up continuity plans and get employees working from home. Collaboration tools like Slack (NYSE:WORK) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Teams were quickly put to use to help suddenly dispersed employees to continue to work together. Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) is now entering the fray -- or rather, upping its game in the digital collaboration space.

The company purchased real-time document editing and collaboration outfit Quip for $750 million in 2016 and fully embedded the tool in its sales and service clouds last year. Now the company is applying what it's learned from Quip to a new app, Salesforce Anywhere.

Bringing customer data to the conversation

The problem, as Salesforce sees it, is that existing collaboration tools like Slack pull users away from what they're working on and into a new window. Insights gained from team conversations and the context in which they were discussed can get lost. Salesforce Anywhere brings those collaborative contexts into the Salesforce ecosystem itself, updating accounts, data, and workflows in real-time across a team of employees. For a team that already works primarily on Salesforce, the new application could help streamline its process in a big way.

A screenshot of a Salesforce data page, with the new Anywhere app with chat and video call overlayed on top.

Salesforce Anywhere. Image source: Salesforce.com.

While Salesforce Anywhere isn't a replacement for Slack's general-purpose communications platform, it does have a specific place when it pertains to unifying data to help an organization get a better view of its customer. For example, video chat is embedded so team members can discuss next steps without screen sharing. Messages can be attached to specific lines or customer accounts. And employees can sign up for alerts so they get updated when a team member takes action on an item.  

Since it looks like the work-from-home movement is here to stay -- at least for the time being, as the world continues to grapple with coronavirus -- Salesforce's new app deepens its usefulness as a means for executing digital transformation. Don't call Salesforce Anywhere a Slack killer, but it does speak to the ubiquity of collaboration tools right now. Staying in contact, even when an organization is distributed across many homes, is an absolute must.