This morning Unit4, a rising ERP player with European origins, announced its partnership with the 'hot' collaboration startup Slack. As such its the first partnership of Slack, which has covered more than mindshare in SiliconValley, becoming the 'de-facto' collaboration tool for many local enterprises, and an enterprise software vendor. So well worth a blog post. 

So let’s take apart the press release in our customary style (it can be found here):
Utrecht, Netherlands, January 12, 2016 – Unit4, a fast growing leader in enterprise applications for service organizations, today announced a new integration with, the messaging app for business teams. Slack delivers service industry professionals using Unit4’s people-centric ERP software a useful communications extension so that updates in Unit4’s Communities workspace become part of their Slack stream and vice versa.
MyPOV – Good synopsis of the partnership. Unit4 has put collaborative capabilities into it platform for people centric ERP, and the collaboration spaces of the platform are now getting integrated with Slack streams. Remarkably it’s a bi-directional interface and information from Slack finds a home in Unit4. Bi-Directionality is important to enable the way how people work, with two solutions and no need for manual synching.
The two-way integration enables Unit4 customer teams to bring together all communications in one place, replacing the need for project-related in-team email. Teams can organize conversations in open channels related to a specific project, topic, team or customer for example, increasing productivity and efficiency. As Unit4 achieves its vision of self-driving ERP, where applications self-learn to deliver real business insight, in-team collaboration and rapid response to opportunities will become a competitive differentiator.
MyPOV – Good formulation of the need for rigidity for scale (as often found in ERP software) and the flexibility for agility (as often found in collaboration software) and how Unit4 plans to deliver on these. Mastering the integration in a light weight ‘automagical’ fashion in one of the holy grails in enterprise software – often searched for – not really fully reached - so far.
Both Slack and Unit4 Business World are available via mobile applications making this a powerful solution for distributed teams across different geographies.
MyPOV – Good to mention the mobile aspect. More than half of work of business professionals now happens in a mobile setting and enabling work in a mobile setting is key. Achieving efficient mobile integration is not trivial – so it will be interesting to see

“Slack has become a popular collaboration tool for business as it is simple to use and ties together the many other disparate tools we use today like Dropbox, Google Docs and Twitter etc.,” said Erik Tiden, Unit4 CTO. “It won’t replace business email anytime soon but is a powerful alternative to in-team email. Teams can be up and running in seconds working together in open and private groups around any project or initiative. It again underlines our people-centric approach to ERP. For service teams working with our Business World ERP, it means they don’t always have to be logged into the system but can keep up on project status through the mobile app, and conversations can be extended to customers and other external stakeholders.”
MyPOV – Good summary by Unit4 CTO Erik Tiden, supporting the people centric vision of Unit4.

Overall MyPOV

A good move by Unit4, delivering a proof point of people centric ERP. A compelling vision is one thing, delivering on it is harder but key to create both value for customers and differentiation in the marketplace. Slack is the collaboration tool that has captured a lot of mind share and is highly desirable for enterprise users to use. Traditionally both enterprise IT and enterprise vendors have been slow at offering support for these tools, creating frustration in the user base. With Unit4 supporting bi-directional integration with Slack it not only shows people centricity in product, but also in user appreciation. A welcome change for enterprise software and hopefully an inflection point creating a new attitude of both corporate IT and traditional enterprise software (ERP) vendors to people needs. 

This capability is a win for both vendors, more importantly for busy users in enterprises that need to connect their enterprise processes with collaboration capabilities. 

More on Unit4:
  • News Analysis - Unit4 picks Microsoft Azure for ‘Self-Driving’ ERP vision - Cloud, Machine Learning, Office and PaaS are the attractors - read here
  • Progress Report - Unit4 lays out a big vision - now it needs to execute - read here
  • News Analysis - Unit4 acquires Three Rivers Systems - read here

More on Future of Work
  • Musings – Time to re-invent email – for real! - read here
  • Musings - Future of Work – Is voice part of it? Post Cortana debut reflections.... - read here

For much more on the Future of Work, with a focus on social business and collaboration, check out my colleague Alan Lepofsky's blog here.

Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here