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IBM is building a plugin that gives bot creators access to Watson artificial intelligence, the company announced today.

More specifically, the plugin will be released on GitHub and will give Slack developers access to the Watson Conversation API. IBM Watson’s VP of developer advocacy, Steve Abrams, told VentureBeat in a phone interview that the plugin is part of a larger effort to reach the Slack bot developer community, sharing Conversation, Sentiment Analysis, and speech APIs for Slack bots.

“We’re making it much easier for developers to build these cognitive bots that will be connected to Slack and to Watson and through them the backend of the digital workplace,” Abrams said.

The Watson Conversation API will also be integrated into Slackbot, he said. Slackbot answers questions about how to use Slack — and leveraging Watson should make its communications more conversational. IBM declined to share a target date for the release of the plugin or other initiatives to work with Slack.

The use of cognitive services like Watson on Slack could create a massive shift, said Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.

“We want Slack to become better and smarter the more you use it. We want to make it simpler for people to keep up with the most important conversations and to supercharge their ability to find fast answers. This partnership with IBM and the work we are doing with Watson will accelerate our customers’ organizational intelligence and propel workplace productivity in dramatic new ways,” Butterfield said in a statement.

IBM Watson also announced plans to create a bot for network and IT professionals that will be showcased on Slack.

“What we’re doing is working with them to create kind of a network operations-IT support bot that will answer questions about network uptime, about outages, things like that. And once integrated with a customer’s backend, Watson will be powering those integrations, so from Slack you can say something like ‘Hey Watson is the network up or down?'” Abrams said.

Both IBM and Slack have made similar partnerships this year. Slack bot-maker Howdy added support for the Microsoft Bot Framework earlier this month. And in June, IBM and Cisco partnered to bring Watson to the workplace.


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