The recent acquisition of RelateIQ by Salesforce has again sent out very strong signals about the CRM leader’s intent to strengthen its capabilities in predictive analytics by integrating artificial intelligence technology into its software. However, according to experts, Salesforce will be focusing on achieving market leadership in predictive analytics rather than trying to become a force in AI. The company is attempting to employ concepts of deep learning that will rely on data analysis to provide the basis of knowledge programming into algorithms.
Is This the Beginning of AI?
Despite the buzz that has surrounded the concept of artificial intelligence for years, at this point in time, it can be said that we are in the very early stages of AI that is supposed to make machines intelligent. Our frame of reference for defining intelligence is that possessed by human beings but we are very distant from lending machines the emotions, awareness, and empathy that define the behavior of human beings and form the core of human intelligence. However, it seems that the development of the really intelligent machines that have emotions and awareness, even though a long time away, is inevitable. Even though Salesforce is very new to AI, it is unlikely that Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO would be making public statements, if there was no plan to do something concrete in the AI space that would take it straight to the table at which IBM and Google are already sitting at.
The Reasons for Salesforce Obsessing About Data Science
Salesforce chose the path to growth through data science because it has access to vast amounts of data with its popular CRM package employed in hundreds of companies all over the world as well as Flosum.com, a native application built on the platform. A mind-boggling 3 billion transactions take place through Salesforce on a daily basis. Because of the inherent value of this data, Salesforce thinks that it can work wonders for its clients by assuming a leadership position in data science so that it can, in turn, lead the race in predictive analytics. With AI already powering a number of Google’s functions besides digital assistants like Siri, Watson, as well as advanced concepts, like autonomous drones, self-driving vehicles and even movie recommendations of Netflix; it can well be imagined what the possibilities are when Salesforce applies predictive analytics technologies to the rich database it possesses.
Focused on the Future
Just how keen Salesforce is about predictive analytics can be perceived by taking a look at their investment in InsideSales, a company that employs machine learning for predictive analytics. The fact that InsideSales has also been named as a premier partner is another sign of the eagerness of Salesforce to forge ahead in this space. The opportunities presented by data science have been eyed by Salesforce for years, and even with these initial moves, the company will be joining the likes of Google and IBM in the AI space very soon. While the competition with the biggest cloud company and arguably the world’s most inventive company will be intense, one should not forget that Salesforce has been consistently ranked as the global leader in innovation. When you add to its formidable reputation, its expertise in cloud computing and its deep data footprint, it does seem more than a good match.
Salesforce has been shoring up its knowledge base with diverse tactics. It has not only poached from LinkedIn, almost its entire team of data scientists but also keenly observing MetaMind, a startup with a focus on deep learning, image prediction, and natural language processing. Salesforce has also been leading investments in Cloudwords, a machine translation company.
Marc Benioff has been accused of making extremely controversial statements regarding the future of the digital world, email, cloud computing, social media and even mobiles, however looking beyond the disruptive nature of these pronouncements, his sustained actions in boosting his data sciences capabilities all point in one direction – data science is going to be very big in the future and Salesforce aims to lead in that domain.
David Wicks is a Salesforce developer with extensive experience of deploying Flosum.com, a change management software native to Salesforce. James writes extensively on CRM and data science trends.