At its Salesforce World Tour on May 2 in New York, the company introduced its AppExchange Partner Program, which couples the power of artificial intelligence (AI) from Salesforce Einstein, with Trailhead, its guided learning platform, to accelerate the development of intelligent apps. In doing so, Salesforce is attempting to demystify AI and create a constructive framework for business decision-makers through use-case scenarios and practical recommendations. While this approach seems to be working now, will it be sustainable in the long-term when employees begin to displaced by technology that works faster and delivers more accurate results?
Making the Case for AI
The impact of AI on enterprises and business professionals is undeniable. Popular assessments frame scenarios that include net reductions in job functions, or take the opposing view of an augmented workforce derived from valued-added jobs. AI’s ability to automate mundane and routine tasks will in turn elevate employees to conduct more creative work. No one can predict for sure what AI will bring, but Salesforce wants to advocate the belief that AI will lead to numerous positive changes in the workforce as it automates routine processes and helps employees become more productive, creating new and different services, and delivering more personalized and contextual customer experiences.
In a world where consumers demand personalized interactions with brands, business professionals understand the basic need for AI, but many still have misplaced fears about what AI really does, largely due to AI’s diverse ecosystem. This confusion leads to inhibitions about where to start. Enterprises can eliminate these fears by sharing use cases that demonstrate the benefits of AI, as well as initiating small pilots focused first on automation and then moving to more in-depth digital enterprise projects.
At the Salesforce World Tour, Ovum spoke to Rob Begg, vice president of product marketing for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He believes that to educate enterprises and spur adoption, it’s the job of Salesforce’s product marketing team to talk about Einstein and AI in a way that is use-case-driven. Salesforce is therefore taking full advantage of this nascent market by creating a workable understanding of AI by framing it with valuable use cases and elevating its potential benefits. For instance, executives from both Transamerica and Farmers Insurance shared how they’re using Einstein to improve their customer experiences.
Transamerica is embedding Einstein and machine learning capabilities into the Financial Services Cloud to better understand and predict customer behaviors. For example, if specific actions within Salesforce indicate that a customer is planning to take his investments elsewhere, the agent responsible will receive a notification with recommended next steps. Einstein will also help advisers better understand broader household needs and provide services that extend beyond each individual customer. In this case, Einstein is empowering the client advisers to act in the best interest of their customers. Likewise, at Farmers Insurance, CIO Ron Guerrier described how AI is enabling agents to better understand customers and deliver a more responsive level of service. This results in an enhanced personal relationship.
These use cases underscore why Salesforce calls AI a “game-changer” that will transform how we live and work. Convincing employees across various roles that AI will help them do their best work will, however, take greater effort beyond presenting use cases. Once enterprises choose to advance past the automation benefits derived from AI, and adopt AI’s true potential (its deep learning capabilities), they will experience a significant impact on productivity, resulting in a tectonic shift in their organizational structures. However, as employees start to become educated about AI’s potential beyond automation, enterprises could see a backlash from their employees, awoken and stirred to the realization that they may someday be displaced by robots.
"Salesforce Turns on Its Innovation Afterburners for its AppExchange," IT0020-000274(May 2017)
Mila D’Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement