A major focus of the 2017 Dreamforce conference was Salesforce's Einstein platform, which aims to lower the barrier to working with artificial intelligence in business.
One of the key themes of the 2017 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco was low-code development, with Salesforce touting updates across its platform that will make it easier for non-developers to build apps and services.
The biggest potential impact of this movement is in artificial intelligence (AI), as Salesforce introduced new functionality into its Einstein platform that further blends low-code orchestration with machine learning. With myEinstein, AI and machine learning can be integrated into apps with point-and-click methods instead of manual coding.
In a Salesforce press release, Einstein general manager John Ball said that the firm was "democratizing AI by empowering admins and developers to transform every process and customer interaction to be more intelligent." Ball also noted in the release that users will have access to pre-built AI apps, in addition to being able to customize their own.
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The new myEinstein is made up of two distinct features: Einstein Prediction Builder for building predictive AI models in Salesforce, and a new way to build custom chatbots called Einstein Bots. Jim Sinai, vice president of product marketing for Einstein, said that myEinstein is "automating data science under the hood."
Salesforce is also adding new AI functionality for its app developers as well. In June 2017, the company announced new Einstein Language and Einstein Vision APIs, allowing developers to take advantage of functionality such as intent and sentiment analysis, image classification, and object detection.
Einstein was initially launched at Dreamforce 2016, but Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff teased the initiative a couple months prior. Built on proprietary and acquired technologies, Einstein was unveiled with the goal of democratizing AI for businesses big and small, while empowering developer and business leaders to take advantage of the technology. At the time, Benioff claimed that Einstein was as powerful as IBM's Watson.
FinancialForce was one of the companies that announced deeper Einstein integrations at Dreamforce 2017. The company is leaning on Einstein Discovery to add AI improvements to its ERP platform.
Like FinancialForce, many companies are turning to AI to provide more specialized products and services that better personalized for their customers. It's clear that AI hasn't fully arrived in the enterprise, but it is on its way to being table stakes in enterprise software, Wolters Kluwer sales operations manager Jack Borland told TechRepublic in a recent interview.
In a FinancialForce press release, Constellation Research founder and principal analyst Ray Wang said that AI will specifically benefit companies in the services economy.
"Evolving business models require an instantaneous, real-time view of everything in an organization—from business operations to a focus on customers—including insight into surprise customer issues that need attention," Wang said in the release.
The numbers seem to point to this as well. IDC research predicts that, by 2018, some 75% of enterprise and ISV development will have AI or machine learning embedded in at least one application. This also includes business analytics tools.
By lowering the barrier to AI in the enterprise, Salesforce is positioning itself out ahead of the coming AI wave, guaranteeing that customers won't jump ship to other platforms offering robust AI experiences.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- At Dreamforce 2017, Salesforce announced myEinstein, a low-code effort in its Einstein platform that will allow more non-developers to build AI and machine learning-powered apps.
- myEinstein includes a Prediction Builder for custom AI-powered predictions, and a feature called Einstein Bots for building custom chatbots.
- By bolstering its presence in Einstein, Salesforce is future-proofing its platform against the coming AI wave and providing the type of AI functionality that will be table stakes in the next generation of enterprise software.
- Dreamforce 2017: 6 Salesforce updates that will change the way you work (TechRepublic)
- How Salesforce is using low-code orchestration to save 'floundering IoT projects' (ZDNet)
- Salesforce brings digital transformation to field workers with AI, analytics tools (TechRepublic)
- Salesforce unveils Quip Collaboration Platform, extending teamwork in live documents (ZDNet)
- Salesforce updates Einstein AI platform with custom analytics and chatbots (ZDNet)