Data may be the new oil, but AI is the electricity of our era

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the electricity of our era, and it already feeds into everything we do.

From a personal perspective, it’s in the predictive recommendations telling me which products to buy on Amazon.com.  It’s the natural language processing in my Uber app getting me where I need to go.  It’s the machine learning behind my Facebook profile doing things it probably shouldn’t be.  And the deep learning in my Google experience helping me answer my kids questions and look a lot smarter than I really am.

But the big question remains – how do you bring AI into your business?  Because the hype and fear mongers are making it sound a whole lot harder than it should be.

It’s important to remember that AI exists on a spectrum – from humanoid robots, self-driving cars, facial and voice recognition, to simple day-to-day tasks like autocomplete on your smartphone.  And the expertise and investment required to develop humanoid robots vs autocomplete capabilities are vastly different!

The reality is the future of AI is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed yet.

By 2018, it is forecast that people will save two hours every day using AI tools.  What would you do with an extra ten hours in your week?

At Salesforce, AI is now being used to coach sales reps on what steps to take to progress and close that important deal.  To assist service agents on how best to deal with a customer and situation.  To guide marketers on which message to send to which customers, via the most effective channel.  And to make apps smarter – to deliver a better experience for customers and employees alike.

AI is fast becoming the secret to customer success.  And thanks to Einstein, the AI capability embedded within the Salesforce Customer Success Platform, it’s now freakishly faster and easier to embed AI within your business process.

The traditional approach to AI requires complex data sampling, feature selection, model selection, score calibration, and integration to back-end and front-end applications, most often requiring specialist data science skills.  The benefit of Einstein being built into the underlying Salesforce platform, is that the data is already prepped and understood, models can be automatically built, and predictions seamlessly delivered in context for the user across sales, service, marketing, commerce, analytics and community engagements.

Einstein starts by analysing data – data that is captured in Salesforce, devices connected via the Internet-of-Things, email, social and calendars, from across leads, opportunities, accounts etc. to identify insights of interest.  It learns using natural language processing, machine learning and predictive analytics to discover, predict, recommend, and in some cases, automate the next best action to take.

Einstein is like having your own personal data scientist to guide you through your day!  It helps you connect to your customers in a whole new way – getting insights into the hands of sales reps, marketers and services agents alike, so they can make decisions and take action in time to influence the outcome.

Use cases that can already be supercharged with Einstein intelligence today include:

  • Lead scoring to allow you to spend your time more effectively.  Einstein automatically prioritises the leads most likely to convert based on your history and past deals.
  • Opportunity insights help you know whether or not a deal is likely to close — identifying customer sentiment, competitor involvement, and overall prospect engagement.
  • Automated activity capture so you can avoid tedious data entry and increase your personal productivity – hell yeah!
  • Service centre supervisor insights to drive new levels of efficiency through customer services and support channels.
  • Journey insights to automatically discover and target new segments, and get higher conversions by identifying the best channels, messages, and events that will make your customers drool and beg for more.
  • Social insights to manage social interactions around the globe, automatically analysing their tone, sentiment, and spamminess (that’s right…new technology requires new words!).
  • More targeted segmentation to build the best audience for every campaign, leveraging machine-learned segments and pattern analysis to understand customer attributes.
  • Vision recognition to automatically categorise an image such as a pitched roof on a house to speed up insurance quotes.

Albert Einstein was remembered as saying “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”  So next time you find yourself asking “Why do I have to capture sales activities when they’re already captured in my calendar?” or “Which deals should I focus on today?” just remember, assuming your boss has invested in the right customer engagement platform, your curiosity is well-founded, soon-to-be-solved, and you should focus more on “What will I do with that extra two hours a day?”

What would you do with two extra hours each day?