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Here’s a question worth asking your team: Are we good enough at making “small, high-velocity” decisions?

Can your teams quickly connect with the right people and find the information they need to make a decision and move forward? Or does your organization turn things that should be small, high-velocity decisions into bloated, foot-dragging deliberations?

I’ve been thinking about these extremes of the decision-making spectrum since talking with Buster Benson, who is product lead at Slack Technologies, a team collaboration platform. Benson describes Slack’s role in letting people collaborate across teams and access the relevant information to make good decisions quickly. For example, Slack makes it easier to ask and respond to quick questions within a small group, rather than scheduling a meeting days into the future to get an answer.

The result can be that teams “save a week here and a week there on micro-decisions,” Benson says, and that can accelerate the pace of an entire business.

Slack and Oracle recently collaborated to bring together Slack’s team messaging capability and Oracle’s new intelligent bot-builder capability. Oracle’s chatbot capability lets people use natural language processing (NLP) to ask questions about a specific use case, and the chatbot can respond by pulling information from a back-end or enterprise application system, such as ERP, human resources, or the company directory. So if you’re having a discussion within Slack, you will be able to stay within that Slack interface and ask a bot, “What’s our current production backlog?” or “What’s our marketing VP’s contact information?”

Oracle’s cloud-based bot-building capability also makes it much easier for developers and non-developers to create a bot. “We’re seeing customers trying to build bots, and building bots is actually really hard, especially if you want to just ask human language questions and get responses,” Benson says. Slack believes that natural language processing and other technical challenges are best solved at the platform layer, as Oracle offers. “Now, customers don’t have to build it themselves anymore.”

The Oracle capabilities include dialog engines that guide them in creating the questions people will ask, natural language processing to understand the different ways people ask questions, and machine learning so that the bot gets smarter as people use it. The bot building capability is part of Oracle Mobile Cloud Enterprise.

Chatbots are increasingly becoming the interface for enterprise applications, because they offer a faster and more efficient way to access information. Employees are already having conversations in Slack, for example, so it’s easier if they can use Slack to message a bot for answers from enterprise systems, rather than having to launch and log into a new app to get the same information. Slack can be the “browser to all the software being used,” Benson says.

And hopefully that can help teams stay on the “small, high velocity” end of the decision-making spectrum.

Chris Murphy is Oracle director of cloud content.

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