Salesforce’s Benioff: ‘Intelligence Revolution’ is Changing Everything

Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to drive a “customer revolution” across the globe in which a growing number of people are connected and engaged with intelligent technology, according to Marc Benioff, Salesforce co-CEO and chairman.

“Everything is changing in our industry,” he said Nov. 19 during the opening keynote at the company’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. “Everything is changing in our world because it’s an intelligence revolution,” he added.

Pointing to the growing number of Amazon, Apple and Google devices that we have in our homes, he said: “It’s incredible how artificial intelligence is becoming such a pervasive part of our world.”

Salesforce, meanwhile, announced the latest developments in its Einstein Voice Assistant technology that was first announced last year at Dreamforce, saying the company is now “bringing the power of voice to every customer experience spanning the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform and enabling millions” of customer relationship management (CRM) users to talk to Salesforce.

“Voice is a huge shift for the industry and will be as impactful in businesses as it’s been in our homes,” according to Bret Taylor, Salesforce president and chief product officer.

Almost 50% of U.S. households are already using voice-activated devices for everyday activities that include getting driving directions, dictating text messages, playing their favorite songs and turning on home appliances, Salesforce noted.

When Salesforce introduced Einstein Voice Assistant at Dreamforce last year, the company noted it would allow sales reps to talk to Salesforce. The company is now expanding the capabilities of Einstein Voice Assistant “for any role or industry, giving every app built on Salesforce a voice,” powered by new Einstein Voice Skills, it said.

Einstein Voice Assistant will now help Salesforce users “be more productive – from anywhere,” the company said, noting it allows for “guiding every action, insight and prediction.” The new Einstein Voice Skills “will enable developers and admins to build custom voice-powered apps for employees across every role and industry, in just a matter of clicks,” Salesforce said.

“Using Einstein Voice Skills, companies will be able to create custom voice-powered apps to reimagine workflows and processesreplacing any manual data entry or manual Salesforce navigation that may impede productivity,” Salesforce explained.

Also, “new solutions for service and sales teams will apply natural language processing to voice conversations, and deliver insights that drive smarter, more personalized customer engagement,” it said.

The new Service Cloud Voice feature, for example, integrates telephony inside Service Cloud, “unifying phone, digital channels” and CRM data “in real-time in one centralized console,” the company said. Service Cloud Voice can also integrate with transcription services that it said “convert voice to text in real time, enabling Einstein to serve up relevant AI-powered recommended responses, knowledge articles and next best actions as service agents are on voice calls.”

With the new Einstein Call Coaching, Salesforce’s newest Sales Cloud capability, managers will now be able to “see insights and trends within conversational data,” the company said, adding: “Natural language processing identifies keywords in sales call transcripts, alerting managers to trends like a spike in competitor mentions, or best practices on topics like objection handling or pricing discussions. Those insights can then be used to provide sales reps with personalized coaching on how to improve the customer buying experience.”

In September, Salesforce joined Amazon and other technology companies to announce the Voice Interoperability Initiative, a new program to ensure voice-enabled products provide customers with choice and flexibility through multiple, interoperable voice services. As part of that initiative, Einstein Voice Assistant and Einstein Voice Skills will be compatible with apps on a variety of devices, from smart speakers to smartphones, Salesforce said Nov. 19. That hardware and software includes the Einstein Smart Speaker unveiled at Dreamforce 2019 (but not for sale) and new Salesforce Mobile App, Salesforce said.

Salesforce and Amazon Web Services (AWS), meanwhile, announced an expansion of their global strategic partnership. Service Cloud Voice “seamlessly integrates Amazon Connect to provide contact center agents with a complete set of tools in their agent workspace to deliver enhanced customer service support,” Salesforce said.

Noting that it already relied on AWS as its primary public cloud provider, Salesforce said it has now selected Amazon Connect to be its preferred contact center technology. As part of its Service Cloud Voice offering, Salesforce is offering the Amazon Connect cloud contact center service that Salesforce said “makes it easy for organizations to deliver better customer service at a lower cost.”

Salesforce and AWS are also making AWS content available on Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, to train anyone to become proficient in the cloud, Salesforce said.

Salesforce is also “exploring ways to make” Einstein Voice Skills compatible with Amazon Alexa, among other voice assistants and devices, Salesforce said.