How Salesforce and the Partner Ecosystem are Delivering More Customer Value with AI

Cliff Spitz and Salesforce Einstein

April 10, 2024 | Cliff Spitz

75% of CEOs believe a competitive advantage will depend on who has the most advanced gen AI, with 50% now integrating generative AI into their products and services, and 43% using generative AI to inform their strategic decisions” – IBM Research

Salesforce introduced Einstein, the first comprehensive AI for CRM, in 2016, almost eight years ago. Salesforce took a leap into artificial intelligence (AI) in 2016 when it announced Salesforce Einstein. At that time, Salesforce Einstein was not just a single product but a technology layer woven into the Salesforce Lightning platform and various Salesforce cloud products – including Marketing Cloud. In 2016, it was a solution searching for a problem that lacked clear use cases. In effect, AI functionality was being applied to various Cloud products like jimmies on ice cream cones, and the company wanted Einstein to be sold as a standalone product, too. So, some AI was free, and some was not.  Many customers were confused and believed that buying jimmies (AI/ Einstein) alone at that time made little sense. And they were right. Salesforce took note of that early experience, listened, and learned. 

Today, in 2024, Salesforce’s approach to AI, messaging, and product packaging addresses and answers, “Where and how do I apply and utilize AI in my professional job and the work environment”? And what does my customer need in terms of product and service to take advantage of this big leap in capability and functionality? Products like Einstein Co-Pilot are now natively integrated across Salesforce Clouds, such as sales, service, marketing, and commerce, to create a better experience for internal staff and external communities. Kudos on this accomplishment thus far.

Salesforce (and other AI tools) are also helping organizations answer key questions, including:

  • Why and when do I need an AI-based solution? For many, that answer is “now, because my competitors are leveraging it for their staff, users, customers, members, or constituents”. And organizations never have enough internal resources and staff to tackle its backlog. AI  technology will allow staff to work on more strategic initiatives and help organizations be more productive.
  • What use cases are good for AI-based solutions? We are beginning to see many examples of AI use cases in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. I am reading about use cases for financial advisors, healthcare administrators, automotive service providers, associations serving members, and college administrators. The possibilities are wide and vast with so many vertical markets/industries.

Societies learn from history and our mistakes and accomplishments, as do organizations and their people. I worked in the AI technology sector from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. It was exciting to deliver natural language programming and expert systems technology to various industries, but upon reflection, it was somewhat revolutionary (and limited) then. But now, the possibilities are thrilling and perhaps infinite, and our responsibilities to ensure its proper use are important and evolving.

One example industry and use case in the 80s and 90s was insurance companies that raced to apply AI and rules-based systems for their large underwriting departments so that 90% of automobile and homeowners applications could be processed in minutes, not days or weeks. The more complex decisions on underwriting were left to human experts to assess the risks and rewards. As a result, the turnaround in applications and customer service claims was significantly improved, leading to increased customer satisfaction and renewals and, in turn, new business. Warren Buffet saw what Geico management was doing. If you were an investor in Berkshire Hathaway, you benefited from Geico’s management and how technology and marketing turned it into a company (and caveman and gecko characters) that was built to last.  

Salesforce trusted partners like Aptaria can provide services to help customers identify CRM and AI use cases and where and how customers can benefit from AI. Helping leaders deliver on their vision and execute their for-profit or non-profit has become the pressing reality of today and tomorrow. The trusted partner can also ensure that the customer’s approach to AI aligns with its longer-term strategy by guiding the AI solution journey at the right pace—starting by walking and jogging before accelerating to a full sprint. 

Today, Aptaria is working with a member-based organization that must effectively match its 100,000+ professional community with the needs of a population of millions that may require its services once or multiple times. One area of the AI-based system under development will present three or four experienced professionals to choose from, thereby identifying the best choices for the consumer and their needs.

In summary, AI is not just being marketed. It is being enabled and changing the way we work, consume, relate, and build systems with increased intelligence to make better decisions. Those of us who are helping bring AI to the world must use it, too, so we may practice what we preach and illustrate the use cases where AI technology can be applied based on our end client/member’s needs. 

If we take the time to envision and understand the use cases and applications that can be developed and deployed and seek the right kind of software and professional services partners to collaborate and execute that vision, the world just might beat a path to your door.

 

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