Salesforce cofounder and CEO Marc Benioff discusses the CRM giant's plans for 2017 during a webcast presentation on Marc 7, 2017.

Published: March 7th, 2017

Salesforce.com is bringing AI to customer relationship management (CRM) in a big way.

On Tuesday the company announced that it would be incorporating its artificial intelligence software, Einstein, into its signature platform, giving customers in sales, service, marketing, and commerce roles access to a powerful, easily customized machine learning tool they can use to build more engaging customer experiences and smarter CRM apps.

The company also announced a worldwide strategic partnership with IBM Corp. that will allow businesses to incorporate both Einstein and Big Blue’s signature enterprise AI platform, Watson, into their customer service efforts as well.

“The combination of Einstein and Watson will make businesses smarter and our customers more successful,” Salesforce CEO and chair Marc Benioff said in a March 7 statement. “No company’s core values are as close to Salesforce’s as IBM’s. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Both IBM and Salesforce expect their respective platforms to reach one billion users in 2017.

Among the Salesforce platform’s new Einstein-driven features are Einstein Vision, a set of APIs (Advanced Programming Interfaces) that allow developers to incorporate image recognition into their CRM platforms and quickly build AI-powered apps.

Coca-Cola, for example, has already incorporated an API into its version of Salesforce that tracks customer supplies of its various soft drinks based on photographs of current stock, suggests items to reorder when inventory runs low, and even offers an upsell if applicable, asking customers if they want to take advantage of deals such as free shipping.

Naturally, such features also carry the advantage of helping Coca-Cola identify which of its products are most popular – and were implemented with minimal stress on the company’s part, representatives said during a March 7 presentation.

Other Einstein features include:

  • Einstein Opportunity Insights, which provides sales representatives with insights and recommendations based on customer sentiment, competitor activity, and prospect engagement data.
  • Einstein Account Insights, which provides representatives with insights gleaned from company, competitor, and industry news.
  • Einstein Activity Capture, which allows representatives to connect their calendar and email accounts to Salesforce.
  • Einstein Supervisor Insights, which provides contact centre supervisors with omni-channel intelligence and AI-powered analytics and uses them to predict customer satisfaction and provide recommendations for improving customer service.
  • Einstein Journey Insights, which automatically analyzes hundreds of millions of data points to help marketers understand which events and sequences lead consumers to buy their products so they can optimize their campaigns and customer journeys accordingly.
  • Einstein Segmentation, which marketers can use to reveal clusters of related but previously ignored consumers and target them with more personalized campaigns.
  • Einstein Commerce Insights, which analyzes order history, product data, and customer data to help retailers better understand purchasing patterns and market their products more effectively.
  • Einstein Data Discovery, which is capable of analyzing millions of data combinations in minutes, then using the results to answer key business questions, like a personalized data scientists. The platform then provides business users are then provided with interactive, actionable insights and recommendations through Salesforce itself. The recommendations can also be turned into a slide presentation, complete with charts and graphs outlinomg key findings and talking points explaining them, with a single click.
  • Einstein Recommendations and Einstein Trending Posts, which allow companies to automatically serve community members with the content that’s most relevant to them.
  • Visual Search, which allows customers to shoot photos of products to discover where they can be purchased.
  • Brand Detection, which analyzes user-generated images in communities, message boards and social media and uses the information to suggest how marketers can improve their service quality, extend their marketing reach, and maximize their campaign ROI (return on investment).

The Salesforce/IBM partnership, meanwhile, will allow businesses to combine Einstein’s customer insights with Watson’s big data insights, gleaned across countless sources and industries including weather, healthcare, financial services, and retail.

For example, a wealth adviser will be able to combine Salesforce client data such as individual investments and risk profiles with Watson-analyzed financial trends and public macroeconomic information within the Salesforce platform to improve their decision-making.

As part of the partnership, IBM will also deploy Salesforce Service Cloud across its operations to help it build a single, unified view of every IBM customer.

“Within a few years, every major decision — personal or business — will be made with the help of AI and cognitive technologies,” IBM president, chair, and CEO Ginni Rometty said in the March 7 release, adding that “with today’s announcement, the power of Watson will serve the millions of Salesforce and Einstein customers and developers to provide an unprecedented understanding of customers.”

All Einstein capabilities are generally available for Salesforce customers. For more information, visit Salesforce Einstein’s website.

The IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein integration is expected to be available in the second half of 2017, with prices to be announced upon its release.

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