Salesforce CEO Touts Significance of AI at Tokyo Event

The significance of artificial intelligence (AI) to Salesforce and multiple business sectors continues to grow, according to company CEO Marc Benioff.

“The opportunity for artificial intelligence and its impact” on customer relationship management (CRM) “is incredible,” he said July 4 in a keynote at Salesforce Trailhead Live Tokyo. “That is the $1 trillion opportunity because AI is the new platform. Everything will be built on AI” going forward, he told attendees.

Benioff pointed to multiple applications that AI is already being used in, including robotic manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, image recognition, financial algorithms, language processing and voice recognition. The latter has been an especially popular application for AI among consumers through devices including Amazon’s Echo and other voice-activated products using that company’s Alexa platform.

In addition to Salesforce’s Einstein AI-driven CRM platform, Benioff said, “There will be AI in many platforms because AI will be so prevalent in our industry,” including via Amazon Web Services, the Google Cloud Platform and IBM Watson. He pointed to Salesforce’s AI collaboration with IBM that was announced in March. In announcing the partnership, Salesforce and IBM said Watson, “the leading AI platform for business,” and Salesforce Einstein will “seamlessly connect to enable an entirely new level of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, marketing, commerce and more.” IBM is also strategically investing in its Global Business Services capabilities for Salesforce with a new practice to help clients rapidly deploy the combined IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein capabilities, the companies said at the time.

The collaboration is working to “transform customer interactions” via the predictive insights that Salesforce discovers from customer data and the predictive insights that IBM discovers from third-party data, Benioff said July 4. AI can be used to improve financial services through personalized advice, manufacturing by minimizing downtime, healthcare by lowering readmission rates, the automotive sector through improved customer loyalty, retailing by personalizing campaigns and insurance by reducing claims, according to Benioff.

AI is part of what Benioff called the “fourth Industrial Revolution.” He noted that mainframe terminals and client/server computing have given way to a “smarter, connected world” that includes cloud computing, social networks, mobile computing and the growing Internet of Things. There are now 6 billion mobile phones and 75 billion smart devices of all kinds, he said, adding the increased number of smart devices on the market stands to have a $15.7 trillion impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said. Overall, Salesforce will have a $389 billion impact on GDP by 2020, he said, citing IDC data.

Salesforce, meanwhile, is continuing to grow in Japan, where it now has 1,119 employees, he also told attendees.