Salesforce AI Day NYC

The Six Five team discusses Salesforce AI Day NYC.

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Pat Moorhead: I appreciate that. So let’s talk more AI shocking about Salesforce. Dan, you and I have talked about Salesforce AI a ton. What did you learn in New York?

Daniel Newman: Look, I had the chance to get out to New York to hear from Mark Benioff for what I’d say is a very large limited crowd. It was a special opportunity to be out there, but it was a mix of customer, partner, executive and a very small group of analysts. I missed you there buddy.

Pat Moorhead: I missed you too.

Daniel Newman: We got to hear from Gucci and he did create a new word when he talked about how they were using Customer 360 and AI and he said he’s going to Guccify. And I was thinking of you, Mr. Montclair there, if you could Montclarify something for me. And in all serious look, he started off in his first quote was from Mark Benioff was, and I jotted it down, “Maybe it’s the most important technology of any lifetime.” So you hear most important technology of this lifetime, he said of any lifetime. And I think that resounded with me. A couple of things I walked away with that are a little bit more macro. On the macro level things for me is one, is there is a important demarcation going on right now between companies that have long been in AI and understood and supported and invested and those that are in their me too moment, meaning, oh all of a sudden it’s a big deal, we’re going to have an AI story.

Salesforce has had an AI story for a long time. They’ve been focused and investing on a huge level, 210 patents in AI. So they’ve been spending money developing technology more than a decade working in LLMs, going back many years. And you remember hearing about Einstein. I mean, Einstein was announced in 2016. That was when Benioff promised an AI in your boardroom to help you make better decisions. So it’s been part of the ethos for some time. Having said that, I don’t think it’s landed particularly well for Salesforce. I think to some extent the company looks like they’re a little bit more of a follower in terms of how it’s been perceived, coming out with all their GPT products. So the question was really what does it do? Why do you need it at the app layer if you can get it all in Vertex or you can get it all in open AI on Microsoft Azure AI.

And I think what it comes down to is this is a great example of where that data layer comes into play. And they showed a really wonderful example of how proprietary data and open internet data can make the big difference. And Pat, you and I have played around with using a Bard or a ChatGPT to do a press release. Remember we kicked that one around and we were like, “Oh, this is pretty good.” But the problem is it doesn’t have any of that important proprietary data. So they were showing some great examples of how you could write a custom sales letter to a prospected customer where you could give references and you could then give specific examples and timelines. And because you have all the sales cloud, data cloud plus the open LLMs tied together, now instead of just writing that generic release, it could write a very prescriptive specific release, but then on top of it adds all kinds of layers of governance.

So for instance, if you wanted to give references, it would have the ability to redact a name or a company name or a specific example, but still provide and write for you a more genericized letter. And so they were showing a really real world example of how these two worlds are combining in the app layer to start creating better content and work through a sales funnel. So that’s just an example, but I really thought that was powerful to see how really what we’re so impressed by these generic generative creations really are crap. You could never send these things.

Someone even said that to me, Pat, if I send a letter and you want it to look like it’s coming from me, it’ll probably have DN at the end and it would never say like, “Hello Mr. Something.” It would always be like, “Yo, Sir”, or whatever it is it sounds like it’s me. And that’s the other thing with Data Cloud and LLMs that it can do is it can look at the history of all the things you’ve written and all the interactions you have with customers to get a sense of your style, your tone, and start to make things seem more personal. So I thought that was a really powerful example. But let me just tell you what I tweeted that Mark Benioff liked because that was-

Pat Moorhead: It’s not about you Daniel.

Daniel Newman: That was important. That was important that I figured out a way to get that in. But really what resonated with me, and actually I had the chance to talk to the Wall Street Journal about this, was the gen AI and its importance to create trust. Because really right now I think this is where a lot of the confusion exists. So in order for Salesforce or any company to win, there’s three tenets of trust that I’ve identified, and Salesforce really reiterated these, which is something I like, but one is trusting the quality of the output. We keep hearing about hallucinations. Salesforce plus Data Cloud believes they can give you more to trust in the quality of output. Two, trust in safety, bias, transparency. To me that’s somewhat table stakes that you know, IBM, Amazon, Google, Microsoft are all saying they’re doing that, but Salesforce competently is ticked that box.

And then the third is trust in how the data gets used. Salesforce was adamant that when they put their tenets of trust in AI, your data is not our product. Data residency and compliance, customer control and privacy, enterprise scale, built in security, ethical and design and practice. So they’re promising that there is no risk of your data being used for anything other than what you want to specifically use it for. And right now that’s an important message from any company playing in this space. There’s a lot more, but I could keep going forever and I just want to leave a little bit of space for you to weigh in.

Pat Moorhead: No, I appreciate that. So due to a family matter, I wasn’t able to auger in and watch this, but I am, but I have read many of the documents that came out and a lot of the press coverage, I just want to say this upfront. So Salesforce is in a similar position I think that IBM is, even though they’re in different businesses with AI. You had IBM that came out with Watson in 2011 and it really got a lot of fanfare at once, but it really didn’t end up driving anything incrementally for IBM. Same thing with Einstein in 2016. I think we did a podcast on this or it didn’t make sense to me that chatbots were just not smart enough. So I didn’t see how Salesforce, who by the way understands their SaaS swim lanes really well, was going to deliver something that nobody else could deliver and they didn’t.

Einstein did not work well, not necessarily just because of Salesforce, but because overall bots weren’t intelligent, generative AI was here, we were using deep learning and machine learning. But I do believe that when you separate this generative AI into consumer and enterprise, there are different success characteristics primarily because the type of data that you’re looking at is going to be more focused. It’s not world data, it’s not beating somebody on jeopardy, it’s not winning some history award. And I think what we’ve seen recently, lawyers trying to use it in the courtroom where it created cases that came not through a centralized legal service using generative AI and that data set, but world knowledge. It was creative. So when I look at Salesforce’s sales service, marketing, commerce, data, cloud, even visualization with Tableau, MuleSoft automation, the things you can do with Slack. I mean heck, Slack at its core is an intelligent way to communicate through chat and I connect that to ChatGPT and the way that we’re working, there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity here.

And like let’s say Oracle Fusion, like IBM where they’re using narrow data sets, I think real magic is going to happen and I think jobs over time are going to be transformed. There are some jobs that are going to go away. I would call those taskmaster jobs and there will be some that will be added. So I think Salesforce is right where it needs to be and that it’s taking intelligent conversations about it. They’re showing a certain level of maturity and thought leadership and the areas, the SaaS areas that they’re in are right for generative AR. The question is just can they either gain market share, can they increase the basket? Overall the vision of Salesforce is to be able to combine these disparate services into a horizontal platform in not the same way as Google and Microsoft, but in a way that represents that shows the power of the platform.

I’m going to do more research on it and we’ll be putting out a note soon.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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