Dreamforce 2016: Salesforce Sets Stage for AI-Powered Future

Dreamforce 2016: Salesforce Sets Stage for AI-Powered Future

Salesforce partners have heard all about one technology this week that has the potential to change everything.

U2 may have been the headliner at Dreamforce this week, but it was artificial intelligence, and Salesforce Einstein, that was the real star of the show. 

This week’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco brought over 170,000 Salesforce customers, partners, and media to hear all about its latest announcements and initiatives, including Einstein.

Salesforce Einstein was announced mid-September, just ahead of Dreamforce, as a way to “bring the power of artificial intelligence to every Salesforce user.” So far there is no specific product or service that has been announced as a result of Einstein, and that’s because it’s not really a product, as TechCrunch’s Ron Miller explains.

“It’s a set of technologies that underly the Salesforce platform and add a level of intelligence to each of the products (or will over time),” Miller wrote on Friday. “Perhaps because artificial intelligence is hard to explain, Salesforce decided to productize it in the form of Einstein. By giving it the name of a really smart person, maybe it drove home exactly how revolutionary this technology could be. Of course, in its current early guise, it’s not that earth-shattering, offering predictive lead scoring and opportunity insights, which alert a rep how a deal is trending. These are frankly a rudimentary beginning, but this is the typical approach for Salesforce.”

It’s easy to see how AI can be useful in sales, and there are already numerous companies using AI in this way, including Conversica, whose AI-powered sales assistant helps salespeople spend less time on tedious sales tasks and more time closing deals.

In an interview with Talkin’ Cloud, Conversica CEO Alex Terry said that his company, which is a Salesforce partner, isn’t threatened by Salesforce Einstein.  

“As Salesforce makes a bigger investment in using AI, to really help prioritize the work of the team, we think that’s really smart,” Terry said. “That’s a great complement to what we do.”

“If you think about what Salesforce has announced they’re using AI in several different ways and in several different clouds,” Terry said, including Sales Cloud. As Fortune reports, “Sales Cloud Einstein promises to look at sales leads through the prism of email and social media messages and other sources to rank which are most likely to result in a sale.”

What’s interesting to note, and wouldn’t necessarily be evident to those who weren’t in attendance at Dreamforce, is that while Salesforce talked Einstein extensively, it “didn’t bring out Einstein’s leadership on stage,” according to Forbes. This seems to make sense considering there were no tangible announcements around Einstein.

“There was no sign of Richard Socher, its new chief scientist tasked to build out a research lab for moonshots, and no discussion of that project.  Neither was there an appearance from Einstein’s presumed new chief to replace Steve Loughlin, who recently left Salesforce to join Accel Partners, in his former RelateIQ cofounder Adam Evans,” the report said.

Salesforce was able to talk about everything and nothing when it came to Einstein this week, and it didn’t seem to dampen any excitement by customers or partners, who are eager to see what Salesforce comes out with next.

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