When I was selected to preview Marc Benioff’s 2016 Dreamforce keynote speech “Our Path Together,” it was a tremendous honor. The intention of the session was to provide feedback regarding messaging before the big event, and I was excited to do so. However, I was surprised by my reaction to his unveiling of AI with Salesforce Einstein. One might expect to be overcome by enthusiasm, excitement, even joy. But truth be told, I was dumbfounded. I thought, “What on earth? This is too much! Artificial intelligence is scientific, MIT kind of stuff. There is no way enterprise companies can utilize this as part of their CRM or business systems.” There I sat, listening to Marc’s words, thinking about how this would never work. To me, Salesforce.com had clearly overreached, and the Einstein unveiling was just an obvious attempt to make an ”AI” headline for the conference.
I sat with this reaction for a while. Admittedly, longer than I should have. But like any good citizen of the Salesforce.com ecosystem, I was determined to understand where the company was headed. I began researching. I asked questions, and read everything I could get my hands on. Digging into the Trailheads for more information, I was in search of a better perspective. And in time, I began to understand the relevance AI had to Salesforce. If the data was accessible, it ultimately wasn’t that farfetched to use machine learning algorithms to understand correlations between the data. The Trailheads made it easy to digest. I had been looking at it all wrong; the implementation team did not need to develop the correlation logic. Einstein did the heavy logic-processing for you. You simply needed to identify data sets, load meaningful samples, discover what the information determined, use analytics to understand the correlations, then add more data to see if future predictions made sense. Rinse and repeat. I was in awe of the power of the algorithms behind it all.
This Einstein approach made sense, but I was still stuck on the right business application for AI…that is, beyond smart lead scoring and the visual identification of a tree frog. For the life of me, I could not imagine additional business scenarios. It was only after I realized how to make machine learning intelligence ‘actionable’ in the course of daily business processes that I understood how brilliant the introduction of Einstein really was. The power behind the technology was that it enabled business processes with alerts of key insights, recommended next actions, and provided views of the analytics. And it could do this right within the normal course of daily work…such as managing opportunities that have the highest probability of closure, determining the best possible quotes to win the deal, analyzing the whitespace of a customer while doing account planning, identifying customers with the highest probability to churn while you are servicing them…the list went on and on. It was the console and Lightning that made AI come to life and perform like a true system of intelligence. I quickly came to realize that the unveiling of Einstein back in 2016 wasn’t an overreach at all — it was GENIUS!
With the introduction of Einstein, Salesforce offers a whole new perspective to the implementation process. It moves the perspective beyond transactional processes and collaboration, to a system of intelligence! Imagine being able to start your implementation effort with the understanding of not only the KPIs (which any good consultant will ask for), but also the factors that are driving those KPIs. Being able to understand the deep correlations and impact of these factors allows you to design a more intelligent business processes – right from the start. The implementation approach now is about placing the insights into the hands of the people who interact with customers and partners every day; transactions would be informed and therefore proactive.
During my time with former employer, Appirio, we disrupted the consulting industry with a technology and crowdsourcing-enabled methodology. At Atrium.ai, we are once again disrupting consulting, but this time with a data and system of intelligence led approach that provides much bigger outcomes for our customers. I am thrilled to be a part of Atrium, and to work with a team that has the creativity, insight, transparency, and drive to make big things happen for each and every client!