Einstein to Make Dreamforce Appearance

Salesforce plans to unveil Einstein, an artificial intelligence product, at next month’s Dreamforce 16, Forbes reported Wednesday.

Einstein integration will give Salesforce’s sales, service, marketing, collaboration and e-commerce products predictive suggestion and insights capabilities. It will serve as a new nerve system across the entire business.

“The details within the Forbes story are accurate,” Salesforce spokesperson Ashish Patel told CRM Buyer. “We’ll be sharing more details in the coming weeks.”

AI is key to Salesforce’s future, CEO Marc Benioff has emphasized on more than one occasion.

“We have moved from real-time analytics to predictive analytics,” noted Natalie Petouhoff, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“Understanding your customer is not enough. Predicting what they need and want is the competitive advantage for companies that want to innovate their customer’s experience, and one of the top ways to do that is AI,” she told CRM Buyer.

Purchasing Spree

Salesforce in recent years has acquired several AI companies — RelateIQ, BeyondCore, Coolan and Tempo AI — as well as advanced analytics firm Implisit Insights, deep learning startup MetaMind, and machine learning provider PredictionIQ.

Company employees are “overwhelmed with information,” remarked Alan Lepofsky, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Software vendors are “looking toward AI as a new way to filter and prioritize information and, ideally, automate repetitive or mundane tasks,” he told CRM Buyer.

The company “now has quite a collection of acquisitions to knit together,” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Doug Henschen.

Its move toward delivering automated predictive insights is clear, he told CRM Buyer, but “only time will tell how soon Salesforce can bring its many acquisitions together to continuously and automatically deliver fresh insights and recommendations right within the context of its sales, service and marketing applications.”

Road Ahead

Five of the seven companies Salesforce acquired in the past eight months have an analytics focus, observed Anne Moxie, a senior analyst at Nucleus Research.

The three key avenues of development Salesforce is most likely to pursue, according to Nucleus, are intelligent business applications, a more advanced standalone offering, and a data distribution service.

All of these “will likely tie into Salesforce Einstein,” Moxie told CRM Buyer.

Salesforce “has the opportunity to not only make its business applications more intelligent and provide an advanced standalone analytics application,” she noted, but also to make “a stronger play in the market as a data provider.”

It could expand on its use of Dun and Bradstreet data in by “leveraging its new data center tools to build out its data management infrastructure,” added Moxie, “and use its new AI tools to suggest what data should be used next and how.”

Einstein “has the potential to act as a sort of a network between the many different sources that Salesforce generates with its own applications, its App Exchange, and with external data partners,” Moxie said. With Einstein on board, Salesforce “can make a play unlike that of the preexisting market for cognitive or intelligent business solutions.”

Algorithmic Muscle

Einstein “is probably some sort of souped-up cognitive environment with back learning capabilities, and the secret sauce is its algorithms,” speculated Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

Artificial intelligence “is a better way to make better connections in a large database, but whether it’s substantially better than what Salesforce already have depends on the customer experience,” he told CRM Buyer.

“It could be a transformational thing, but AI so far hasn’t been completely transformational,” Jude pointed out. “It takes a lot of front-end effort to make it go. You have to put in a lot of time to train it. The basic question to answer is, how many wrong answers are you willing to get in order to get a right answer?”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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