Meet Einstein: Artificial Intelligence the Centerpiece of Dreamforce This Year

Artificial intelligence has garnered the interest of most major technology firms today, as we witness machine learning in a variety of applications, from smart homes and offices to Facebook’s photo-tagging feature. We didn’t really consider AI for customer relationship management until Salesforce dropped Einstein on us at Dreamforce this week—and suddenly it became so obvious: why wouldn’t we apply machine learning to a process as data-rich as CRM?

Along his “march to AI,” CEO Marc Benioff hired top data scientists and made several strategic acquisitions. Two years later, Einstein has arrived, ready to permeate every layer of the Salesforce experience. The digital assistant is “everybody’s data scientist,” according to Benioff, pouring through near-infinite signals to suggest more efficient paths toward success.

Does this put data scientists out of work? Hardly. Humans will supplement artificial intelligence as necessarily as machine learning supplements human intelligence—it’s synergy, not a conflict.

David Ciccarelli, CEO of and longtime Salesforce user, says that humans aren’t the best at determining which data is actionable. This is because almost all data is actionable, but it’s rarely obvious which action to take. Software like Einstein, which has looked through the data of millions of companies, already knows the answer before a human can even ask the question.

Sales Cloud Einstein, for example, includes Predictive Lead Scoring that enables sales reps to focus on closing the best leads. Marketing includes Predictive Audiences, which builds custom audience segments based on predicted behaviors.Analytics Cloud Einstein will deliver Predictive Wave Apps that uncover future patterns for any business process. And IoT Cloud Einstein will include Predictive Device Scoring, which will score streaming data from connected IoT devices.

There are other features in each cloud, of course, but do you see a trend? When a human utilizes data, they become smart. When AI utilizes data, they become near-psychic.

It’s an exciting time to be a Salesforce user, and the buzz at Dreamforce is palpable. For now, Einstein is as Salesforce ships it. But Einstein will open up to developers next year, according to Allison Witherspoon, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce, which is when the real fun should begin.

Salesforce is not planning to rest on Einstein’s laurels, either. Jim Sinai, ‎VP of Marketing for SalesforceIQ, says “we are committed to understanding the next generation of AI technology.” The company has launched Salesforce Research, a new research group focused on the future of AI, under the leadership of Dr. Richard Socher, the company’s Chief Scientist—at least until Einstein takes over, that is.

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