Salesforce Einstein: AI for Everyone
CRM company Salesforce, powered by the artificial intelligence of Einstein, is making additional in-roads into the contact center. How far will it go?
Salesforce today unveiled Salesforce Einstein, which is being described as not only providing artificial intelligence for every company, but as creating the world's smartest customer relationship management (CRM) software. Whenever I cover a vendor announcement on No Jitter, one of my goals is to deliver value beyond the press release. And after listening to an hour long pre-briefing for press and analysts on the announcement last week, I was eager to get to work on coverage...
Then I saw the press release. In 1,600+ words, the Salesforce team has done an impressive job of laying out the Einstein vision and story. For those unprepared to read that long of a press release, I will highlight important attributes of the announcement, and add in perspective I think is most relevant to No Jitter readers.
Origins of Salesforce Einstein
According to John Ball, SVP and GM for Salesforce Einstein, "A couple of years ago we embarked on a journey to allow all companies to benefit from AI, to democratize AI just like we democratized CRM. ... So we took our CRM experts, our UX experts, our data scientists, and our multi-tenant, meta-data-driven platform and started building Einstein."
"Along the way, we identified some really great companies with best in class AI capabilities such as MetaMind, that [were] breaking new ground in the area of deep learning," Ball continued. And being Salesforce, they acquired not only MetaMind, but a host of other companies, all of which are now incorporated into Einstein. These include: Implisit Insights, experts in applying AI to the sales process; PredictionIO, breaking new ground in the machine learning space; and Tempo, with predictive scheduling expertise. Individuals from all of these companies "came together as a team -- 175+ data science experts -- to build this new technology called Einstein" Ball said.Not a Product, but a Platform Capability
As seen in the above graphic, Einstein is not a single product. Rather, it is an architectural layer that sits between data services and the development layer, Lightning.
"One of the fantastic things about doing data science and AI at Salesforce is that we here at Salesforce have tons of data," Ball said. "We have CRM data, such as accounts and leads and cases and opportunities. We have communications-centric data, such as emails and calendar events. We have interaction data from Web clicks on ecommerce sites, and then we have social data from Social Studio and Community Cloud."
"What Einstein really does," Ball continued, "is take all of that rich data and apply deep learning and machine learning and AI to discover insights, to predict outcomes, to recommend the next best thing to do, and then ultimately to automate processes." Einstein will do this across all of the Salesforce clouds (e.g., Sales, Service, Marketing, etc.). It is best described as a core product of the platform, an enabling technology.Timing and Pricing
While Salesforce is painting a very broad picture of how Einstein will be embedded in every element of the Salesforce Customer Success Platform (e.g., Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud), they are less clear about when each of these capabilities will be available. Salesforce has announced that some Einstein features are available now -- e.g., in the Community, Analytics and Commerce Clouds -- but no timeline or pricing information is yet available for some of the more compelling features, described below:
- Sales Cloud Einstein
- Predictive Lead Scoring -- enables sales reps to focus on the best leads
- Opportunity Insights -- alerts reps when a deal is trending up or down
- Automated Activity Capture -- logs email and calendar activity with the right Salesforce record, and analyzes them to deliver predictions
- Predictive Scoring -- scores every customer's likelihood to engage with an email
- Predictive Audiences -- will build custom audience segments based on predicted behaviors
- Automated Send-time Optimization -- will predict the optimal time to deliver messages based on past customer behavior
- Recommended case classification -- automatically defines cases based on user histories and trends. For instance, if a product has a known defect, those cases can be automatically routed with the instructions to agents on how to address the issue.
- Recommended responses -- use case context and history to provide recommended answers, ensuring customers can quickly get the right answers to their questions. Routine inquiries can be automated, freeing agents to focus on fewer, more involved cases that benefit from the personal touch.
- Skills-based Routing -- Einstein helps route the right skilled worker to the right interaction at the right time, making certain that customers get the help they need on the first interaction.
Features powered by Einstein will be coming with each Salesforce release, starting with the winter release due in October, Ball said. There are three Salesforce releases a year. Some capabilities will be included with existing licenses, and others will incur an additional charge.
Two years ago I wrote about the blurring line between CRM and the contact center, and the Salesforce Einstein announcement serves to reinforce the continued movement of CRM companies into areas previously considered to be contact center software's domain (e.g., skills-based routing). In a Salesforce blog post yesterday, Mike Millburn, GM & SVP for Service Cloud wrote, "Intelligence will turn today's perception of customer service around completely, and we're just getting started with Einstein." It will be interesting to watch how far into the contact center feature set Salesforce - empowered with Einstein - will wander.