Salesforce is one of the largest cloud computing companies in the world, with a market capitalization of over $40 billion. The company is best known for its customer relationship management (CRM) software, but has a broad range of other enterprise solutions as well. Since its founding in 1999, Salesforce has continually expanded its services to include the AppExchange market, the Salesforce1 Mobile App platform, and specialized websites that include Work.com, Data.com, Desk.com, Do.com, and Site.com, among many others. Now the company is making a big push into artificial intelligence (AI) with the announcement of its Salesforce Einstein product line.
What Is Salesforce Einstein?
Using machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), and other AI technologies, Einstein opens the door for Salesforce users to adopt AI functionality to deliver more personalized and predictive experiences for their customers. The product line is broad and includes:
- Sales Cloud Einstein: Includes AI to make sales efforts more precise
- Service Cloud Einstein: Uses AI to enable better call routing, and identify best responses.
- Marketing Cloud Einstein: Includes tools to optimize email marketing
- Commerce Cloud Einstein: Includes product recommendation engines and stores planning recommendations
- Community Cloud Einstein: Provides recommendation engines, automated escalation, and personalized newsfeeds to users.
- Analytics Cloud Einstein: Extends current analytics offerings to include machine learning, deep learning, and other AI technologies to analyze data; this will be particularly helpful with large data sets
- IoT Cloud Einstein: Offers the ability to manage devices.
- Custom Apps: Most significantly, Salesforce intends to offer tools to allow customer, developers, and administrators to build their own AI solutions.
Why Is There a Need for Artificial Intelligence?
AI is more reliable, less expensive, and sometimes more accurate at performing specific tasks than most employees, yet the technical expertise and infrastructure required to develop AI solutions are beyond the reach of most companies. Most AI, but especially deep learning, requires massive amounts of accurate data, which requires significant engineering resources to acquire, manage, and integrate. Specialized algorithms must then be built to extract value from the data, requiring extensive data science expertise. Infrastructure and dedicated operations support are required to maintain these models and keep them up and running. Finally, pushing the results (i.e., the insights and recommendations from these AI models) where they are needed requires more integration. These needs beg the question: is it possible that AI is best suited to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model? With millions of users entering information every day, Salesforce may be better positioned to leverage AI than any of its clients.
Taking a page out of IBM’s book, Salesforce has given a grab bag of applications a unifying brand personality. Is Einstein like Watson? Salesforce suggests that you will love Einstein because he was a lot smarter. Salesforce has even gone so far as to get the licensing rights from the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, owner of the famous physicist’s literary estate. The choice to use Einstein’s name could be problematic if Salesforce’s marketing machine raises unrealistic expectations about the maturity of the product and AI in general. It is not currently clear which products are available today, which will be available soon, and which are still on the drawing board. So far, the solutions offered are enhancements to existing processes, not new business processes or even new business models. So, this announcement currently amounts mostly to tactical improvements. But once the thousands of AppExchange developers start tinkering with AI capabilities, the results may be much more substantial.
Overcoming Shortcomings for a Bright Future
Regardless of any current shortcomings, Salesforce’s Einstein announcement is strong evidence to support Tractica’s position that the business software sector is poised to leverage AI extensively in the future. Our Artificial Intelligence for Enterprise Applications report forecasts that spending in this sector alone will grow to over $3.1 billion by 2025, which is a bright future for those like Salesforce entering the market.