What Salesforce’s Investment Means for the Future of AI
Salesforce has 150,000 customers today, and each one of them benefits from an automated machine learning model. Starting with the Optimus Prime software engine (not to be confused with the Transformers autobot), and continuing with the Einstein platform, Salesforce followed its mission: moving advanced software from in-house servers to the cloud. This made machine learning affordable for businesses which, otherwise, would have paid expensive bills for the experts in the market. And there is no stopping now, with the investments Salesforce has made in AI, there have been, and there will continue to be even more massive changes in every CEOs way of managing a business.
Einstein Brings AI-Powered Predictions and Prioritization
The most powerful assets of the Einstein platform are by far prediction and prioritization. The program, an add-on column at the far right of the basic Salesforce screen, studies the history of the data. Based on the best factors, it then predicts the future, adjusting its pattern once new information is available.
If you want to know which leads to approach first or what task to pick next, Einstein has the right answers for you. Having just celebrated its first anniversary, Salesforce Einstein now delivers more than 475 million predictions every day.
Taking its investments in AI to the next level, Salesforce recently introduced Sales Cloud Einstein Forecasting, combining the art of data mining and the science of machine learning. The new service can analyze, process and understand key factors necessary to make individualized sales forecasts. A gold mine for sales leaders, we might say, Salesforce announced two more automated solutions: Einstein Opportunity Scoring and Einstein Email Insights.
Salesforce & IBM – A strategic partnership
Artificial Intelligence was leveraged even more through the global strategic partnership that Salesforce and IBM started this year. The leading AI platform for business, IBM Watson, and the AI powering the world’s #1 CRM, Salesforce Einstein, joined forces and enabled companies to make smarter and faster decisions. The level of intelligent customer engagement significantly improved in key sectors such as sales, marketing, services, commerce and more.
Furthermore, IBM’s customers were able to build apps that included Salesforce data, while Salesforce added the ability to include IBM weather data in Lightning apps. Since the weather conditions influenced a lot of industries, forecasting this kind of data was more than useful, leading to greater customer success.
Fueling the Development of New AI Solutions with a $50m Fund
To accelerate the development of transformative AI solutions, Salesforce has recently launched a new $50 million fund for startups, the first recipients of the funding being Highspot, Squirro, and TalkIQ.
At the same time, Salesforce Ventures invested in All Turtles, an AI startup studio which partners with other teams and companies that are keen on building AI-centric products. Salesforce’s target is to co-create cutting-edge AI solutions built on its platform and to bring Artificial Intelligence to every step of the sales cycle. Building pipeline, closing deals, growing the business were already parts of the sales leaders’ strategy, but forecasting helped them gain even more visibility and speed.
In 2017, Salesforce investments in AI were $10.8 billion, double than in 2016, according to research firm CB Insights. Salesforce’s interest in AI companies started in 2015 with the hope to improve its products with automated solutions for its customers’ challenges. The first two startups acquired were Tempo AI and MinHash and were followed by MetaMind and PredictionIO, in 2016.
The Role of AI in Decision Making, Business Management & eCommerce
From Assisted Intelligence to Augmented and, finally, Autonomous Intelligence, the spectrum of AI is broad. Even if companies weren’t yet ready to let a computer take over, there were many benefits such as the following three at which we are going to take a closer look.
Augmented Intelligence, the best known layer of AI in 2017, has supported human decisions through applications that include machine learning, neural networks and image recognition, among others.
Even better than just simulating independent intelligence, the Augmented one offered new solutions, taking AI from identifying patterns to combining existing information. This has helped leaders to decide faster which is best for their clients and their businesses.
Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, used AI, for instance, to end internal politics. As he told Wall Street analysts, he included an unreleased version of Einstein, called Guidance, to the company’s quarterly conference call and his Monday morning staff discussions. Different from people who sometimes can try to influence a CEO in a direction or another, based on their personal beliefs or interests, Einstein showed no bias, as its decisions and suggestions were based just on the data. The platform was able to answer any question about the products and even said which executive needed specific attention.
In the absence of Einstein Guidance, other companies still had the help of Salesforce Einstein, forecasting data at a lower level, but much better than when not using it at all.
The speed of AI also influenced A/B testing which became 100 faster. Marketing automation tools also allowed adapting the layout and the response functions of a website to the user. eCommerce leaders were able to follow the machine’s recommendations, gaining more customers and closing more deals.
The Future of AI
Since AI has been able to evolve that much, it seems just a matter of time until human work will no longer be necessary. This is just what people fear, but the future may actually bring more working places, with the role of humans just being reconsidered. Although AI is successful when it comes to predictions, it still needs human presence when something unpredictable happens.
To find out how Artificial Intelligence could transform your business and your management, get in touch with us and we’ll let you know which Salesforce features would work best for you!