July 9, 2018
Marketing AI: all hype? A closer look at Salesforce Einstein
Salesforce released its Einstein platform to the public in Spring 2017, giving the average user access to powerful CRM with promised AI predictive analytic powers. The release came with a tidal wave of hype, promising revolutionary changes to marketing departments. Companies have had time to implement Einstein for a period of months, so accurate reviews are in. Experts believe that Salesforce Einstein is an excellent tool with a number of useful analytic uses. While it isn’t entirely stand-alone, the basic platform does more than simply complete data-based applications. Einstein probably deserves about 80 percent of the original hype. As stats go, that’s not bad.
Salesforce hailed its own product by announcing that “The world’s No. 1 CRM is now the world’s smartest CRM . . .” The company also emphasized Einstein didn’t need the major customization that other similar platforms required because it contained “state-of-the-art algorithms built directly into the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Platform . . .” You get the picture. What was already a premier product would now usher marketing into the promised land of predictive data, and ultimately, finalized sales, enchanted customers, and home-grown marketing gurus.
Salesforce Einstein Analytics Platform costs $75 per month per user, approximately the same price as Adobe Creative Cloud, which features Adobe Sensei. For that reasonable price, you get many features, including advanced sales and service apps. You can use them to analyze data from any source up to 100 million data rows, according to Salesforce. You can also create your own custom apps and dashboards and have access to all the online training you need. The platform isn’t as advanced as others, but it provides an advantage to companies without their own data geniuses on staff. It takes time to set up and manage effectively, despite the rosy predictions on the Salesforce site.
Some experts say that Einstein doesn’t include actual “cognitive computing” (AI) but instead uses machine learning (ML). However, the company’s partnerships with Watson and other industry leaders provide Einstein users with impressive analytic power. For marketing departments, the pertinent question isn’t “Is this ‘real’ AI?”, but “How does it help us do our jobs?”
The machine learning allows the program to study data and determine, for itself, how to predict the future. Einstein constantly analyzes new data and makes model adjustments, determining what tasks you need to address next in your marketing efforts. Einstein can tell you which sales prospect is “most likely to close” and also sort a mailing list according to who’s most likely to open your email.
Einstein goes way beyond simply organizing data. It can, on a daily basis, make your sales department more efficient and effective. Whether it’s defined as actual AI probably won’t affect you or your employees.
Salesforce offers other advanced features. For instance, your company can also use the Product Identification feature to manage inventory and improve sales potential. In addition, the Brand Detection feature helps your marketing department learn more about customer preferences and offers tools to refine sales campaigns. The technology also offers features that increase customer satisfaction. Visual search employs visual filters that let consumers find products that meet their needs. They can also take product photos and find out where they’re available.
Nuts and Bolts
Salesforce touts Einstein as a way to democratize AI. You don’t have to have your own data scientist to join the marketing analytic revolution. It’s not as simple as subscribing to the service, however. While many features are packaged in easy-to-use Cloud applications, customizing it for your particular company takes a little work and some online training. Yes, it’s pretty easy to use, but like any platform, it requires study and practice, particularly on the part of admins to fully use it. You have to build a model for your business and also refine your data so you get the best results. In short: Excellence in, excellence out.
Salesforce boasts a number of high-profile success stories, and these online testimonials pack a punch. Companies such as Adidas, AWS, US Bank and Farmer’s Insurance are on record praising Salesforce offerings.
Kone, a leader in escalators, elevators and moving walkways, used Salesforce Einstein in conjunction with IBM Watson to build a customer-centered company in lieu of a hardware-centered one, allowing them to thrive around the world. They attribute much of their recent success to the Salesforce platform.
The Bottom Line
Salesforce has been a wildly successful Cloud Computing, CRM-based company for some time, but their addition of Einstein to their customer offerings has enhanced their business and made AI (really machine learning) more available to the those who aren’t data experts.
Einstein is not the most advanced platform you can choose, and you may need to pair it with Watson or add other Salesforce products to reach the productivity level that you desire. Still, experts in the industry rank it pretty high as a tool that helps most marketing departments. Will it unleash marketing magic on its own? No. But it will give more power to your marketing efforts. For companies looking for predictive analytics, Einstein is worth a try.