Cloud computing giant Salesforce.com is currently on its World Tour, which will see it meet with thousands of customers and partners. Stopping off at ExCel in London yesterday, the company laid out its vision for the future of enterprise software.
Speaking to an audience of roughly 10,000, on a stage decorated to resemble a campfire at a US National Park, Salesforce.com chief marketing officer Simon Mulcahy announced that the day was all about what he called ‘trailblazers’.
For Salesforce, Mulcahy explained, that means anyone who is using Salesforce technology to do something innovative. But Salesforce is no slouch itself in the trailblazing stakes: it posted revenues of $8.4 billion for its 2017 fiscal year, up 26 percent year-on-year, and can claim to be the fastest growing of the top five enterprise software companies globally.
Five areas of transformation
Mulcahy spoke of five areas of enterprise software transformation on which Salesforce is focused, the first four being speed, productivity, mobility, and connectivity. The fifth area, and the one where Salesforce obviously wants to lead the pack, is artificial intelligence. “Welcome to the age of AI,” Mulcahy told attendees.
As the walls of every industry are broken down by AI, Mulcahy wants Salesforce to be at the forefront of that change. To do so, the company hopes to spread the use of Einstein, its intelligent CRM system, announced in September last year at its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
Einstein works in tandem in with IBM Watson, following the Salesforce/IBM partnership announced in March of this year. “Salesforce brings predictive insights around customer data, partnering with IBM to bring predictive insights into third-party data,” Mulcahy said. The end result should be an intelligent transformation of customer interactions, the company claims.
In a live demo, Salesforce staff showed off the technology’s capabilities. Simulating a storm hitting ExCel, the team illustrated how Einstein, in tandem with IBM Watson, which is able to analyze weather patterns through IBM’s 2016 acquisition of the Weather Company, could predict the inclement weather and determine how this might affect its business users in, say, the insurance industry.
Detecting that the storm may cause damage to vehicles, the AI determined which of the insurers’ customers were likely to be affected and how best to contact them, allowing insurers to offer a proactive warning to customers before any damage could be done to their cars.
Don’t forget IoT
But it’s not just through AI that Salesforce hopes to deliver a quality customer experience. Despite receiving much less attention at the show, Salesforce IoT Cloud encapsulates another one of the company’s five areas of enterprise software transformation: connectivity. Salesforce recognizes that its customers want closer and better relationships with their customers; they want smarter products with cognitive intelligence; and they want to make processes between smart product makers and smart product consumers more efficient and reliable.
“Customers and consumers are starting to expect Uber-like experiences from business services,” Bo Mangels, who works in product marketing for IoT Cloud, told the audience. “The trend right now is that people are trying to understand how they can get their devices to communicate with each other, but not enough focus is on business applications, which is where the value comes from.”
The business applications side is where Salesforce wants to lead, Mangels noted, and the company is currently engaged in building partnerships with companies that are experts in IoT to improve its offering. Currently, the IoT Cloud connects all device data to customers’ Salesforce apps. This data is then routed to the Service Cloud, where it allows them to better communicate with customers and automate processes, such as a thermostat provider issuing homeowners with alerts when their heating is too high.
Energy management and automation company Schneider Electric, for example, was said to be improving its customer satisfaction by increasing the operational efficiency of its buildings with IoT Cloud. The company is essentially monitoring its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to determine when staff use them the most. Schneider feeds this data into its building service plans in order to reduce energy consumption and ultimately save on costs.
Similarly, German robotics company Kuka is using IoT Cloud for predictive maintenance. Kuka’s robots are commonly used to build cars. If one of those robots in a production line goes down, however, the entire line must be switched off. Naturally, this costs time and money for the customer. Kuka is monitoring its robots with IoT Cloud and routing that data to Service Cloud to predict when the robots need maintenance before they go offline.
Read more: Salesforce to put new IoT platform on AWS
An all-round customer experience
Both Einstein and IoT Cloud feed into what Salesforce calls its Intelligent Customer Success Platform, which places all Salesforce applications in one place with the aim of enabling business to deliver a quality customer experience. It’s about “giving you a big hug all the way through the technology journey,” as Raj Mistry, senior vice president of solution engineering at the company, told Internet of Business. “I still see so many people struggling with other platforms and how they embed IoT or AI,” Mistry said, “[but] all of the technology is here today.”
One thing that was clear throughout the presentations yesterday is that Salesforce is not sitting back and resting on its laurels, and with the success the company had last year, that ‘trailblazer’ title is well within its grasp.