Slack is becoming the work operating system (OS) of most modern organizations. Work flows through Slack, issues flow through Slack and questions end up in, you guessed it: Slack.
That being the case, IT is looking for ways to use Slack as a helpdesk. There are several flavors of the modern helpdesk, but the purpose of this article is to highlight a few players (our favorites) in the IT automation space that make using Slack as a helpdesk a reality.
The landscape of Slack-first help desk options are encapsulated into three distinct deployment types:
- Purely-integrated – Connects Slack to an existing third-party helpdesk ticketing system like Jira Service Desk (or Jira Software).
- Hybrid-integration – Combines a stand-alone ticketing product with partial integration with existing third-party systems.
- Stand-alone – Completely distinct technology that competes with the likes of Jira Service Desk or ServiceNow.
Let’s explore the competitive landscape to compare which offerings fit into each bucket.
Halp is a system for building a self-service IT help desk in Slack. They offer a hybrid-integration helpdesk.
Halp (formerly BubbleIQ) appears to have been built and positioned to solve the needs of smaller organizations looking to use Slack as a helpdesk. Some companies, particularly smaller ones, don’t have an existing helpdesk system and Halp was built to deliver an easy-to-deploy, lightweight Slack helpdesk for internal support. They also support integrations with Zendesk and Jira. Turn Slack messages into tickets by adding an emoji 🎫.
atSpoke is an AI driven ticketing system built for Slack. They offer a stand-alone helpdesk solution.
atSpoke (formerly AskSpoke) leans into IT automation with an AI-driven approach to internal support. Not unlike the other players referenced here, atSpoke believes the modern workplace lives in Slack. The atSpoke system enables medium sized organizations to build a modern and more robust ticketing system and deflect issues with natural language processing (NLP).
Obie is a faster way to find answers and get help within Slack. They offer a purely-integrated helpdesk solution.
Since 2015, Obie has been focused on the knowledge-side of this problem. Obie connects to existing knowledge sources like Confluence, Google Drive, Box etc. and captures common answers to questions from Slack. With natural language processing (NLP), Obie deflects tickets and reduces repeat questions when they come up in Slack. Obie enables IT automation by allowing customers to integrate Jira and Jira Service Desk with Slack to create tickets when answers can’t be found.
Key features for IT automation
Let’s quickly compare each product’s strongest features.
|Self-serve knowledge base||Ideal for companies looking to start with basic support ticketing||Modern ai-based approach to helpdesk|
|Lowest switching costs||Conversational ticketing tied to emoji which are common and intuitive in Slack||Robust native ticketing features|
|Deep integrations with knowledge systems and existing ticketing systems||Integrates with Zendesk & Jira Service Desk|
Now, let’s compare each product’s weakest features.
|No native helpdesk functionality||Slack dependent||Highest switching costs|
|No Zendesk ticketing integration||Limited native helpdesk functionality||Limited helpdesk integration functionality|
In a lot of ways, atSpoke is challenging ServiceNow to create a newer, better version of that monolithic support ticketing product. They lean heavily into utilizing AI and conversational design within Slack to create a better service desk solution that acknowledges modern workflows and builds a product that fits more seamlessly into those. They do have a knowledge base product to support some self-serve flows, but it remains secondary to the modern ticketing nucleus. There is no focus on integrations with the established market participants like Jira Service Desk or ServiceNow. They aim to reach feature parity with the market leaders in this space.
Halp has endeavored to bring a simple, light-weight ticketing solution to a broader market than just the enterprise tier. They have recognized the way that more dynamic companies have served the support function within the Slack ecosystem and used those workflows to make Slack-based ticketing more intuitive to those people. Halp uses Slack emoji to, in a way, gamify support ticket creation and management. After recently being acquired by Atlassian, they have arguably the strongest integrations with Jira Service Desk. Also, Halp has added a secondary knowledge component to their product, called Answers, which serves self-serve support. Because they aim to offer a lightweight ticketing option (and because of the Atlassian relationship), they are not aimed at reaching feature parity with Jira Service Desk or its competitors.
Obie acknowledges that the robust service desk is something that Atlassian and its competitors have solved well with Jira Service Desk, et al. Where Obie shines is in the “last mile” of IT automation by merging that with common workflows. After recognizing that so many support seekers left a graveyard of unanswered support requests in various Slack channels, Obie aimed to be the intelligent steward of those issues to accelerate issue resolution.
Designed as a holistic Slack-based knowledge and support solution, Obie aims to reach beyond making ticketing more accessible in Slack-based workflows; it aims to provide a full suite of self-serve knowledge solutions to increase ticket-deflection and reduce support desk workloads. Ultimately, this keeps platform switching costs low because Obie fits into existing workflows without replacing other costly systems.
atSpoke provides the broadest array of use cases because their product is stand-alone and does not integrate with another system. Therefore, tickets can be designed to fit into more use-cases. Halp has their own lightweight ticketing solution or can be integrated with JSD. Obie purely plays in the integration space by bringing only JSD and Jira into the Slack-based ticketing flow.
– B2B Support
– HR & People Ops
– Sales & Customer Support
These three players in IT automation actually have completely different pricing models. Their pricing is quite indicative of how they are positioned in the market.
Halp is priced per agent. This is very common for IT helpdesk products, and tells us that Halp is very much positioning themselves towards the IT / service desk agent crowd. Agent-based pricing suggests most value is created within the agent user experience. By the looks of it, Halp might be the most affordable for smaller teams, but if you want the full power of their Jira Service Desk and Zendesk integrations, you’re going to have to spring for “professional”.
On the contrary to Halp, atSpoke leverages the more traditional per-user based pricing that most SaaS product adopt. This makes getting started with atSpoke very affordable, but costly at scale. Pricing per user also suggests that atSpoke is positioning themselves as a solution that provides value for more than just the IT helpdesk agents. Interestingly “Standard” ($5/user/month) isn’t much different than “Plus” ($6/user/month), aside from the fact you can use atSpoke with 3 teams, instead of 1 on Standard.
If you’re exploring IT automation or looking to use Slack as a helpdesk, Obie “Premium” is the only option before exploring enterprise options. “Premium” includes the Jira and Jira Service Desk integrations and the other solutions are focused solely on the knowledge management functionality. Obie adopts “bucket” pricing, so for up to 500 end-users you have unlimited access to the features listed. Obie also charges $60 per additional “admin” per month for those looking to manage integrations and view analytics. This makes Obie very affordable at scale, but the biggest lift to get started.
Bucket pricing typically suggests that the vendor understands what their target customer demographic looks like and often disqualifies those that don’t fit that market. For the IT automation use case, Obie is positioned at mid-sized organizations.
In the end, it is up to the leadership team to analyze their existing workflows and to decide which technology fits best into their structure. To reiterate, here are the options one last time:
- atSpoke = Stand-alone helpdesk software for Slack-based teams who prefer a new modern approach to ticketing with a Slack-first design.
- Halp = Hybrid-integration with lightweight native ticketing for smaller teams who use Slack and integration with Jira Service Desk & Zendesk.
- Obie = Purely-integrated with JSD and Jira to accelerate existing ticketing workflows by merging them with Slack and a focus on deflection with robust knowledge features.
If you think Obie fits your workflow or you’d like to learn more, request a free discovery call and receive a live demo and access to a free trial. Otherwise, check out our friends Halp and atSpoke!