Machine learning features have the potential to transform your marketing and customer support, but they’ve been out of reach for most companies. Now both Microsoft and Salesforce are building them into their cloud CRM tools, putting AI within the grasp of most enterprises.
The idea is to democratize the benefits of machine learning for businesses that don’t have data science expertise. “For the vast majority of companies, it’s too hard,” Einstein general manager John Ball tells CIO.com.
“To do data science, you have to have data, you have to collect and manage it and then you have to do some data wrangling. Then you have to hire a scarce data scientist, you have to build predictive models, you have to refresh them,” Ball says. “You have to have infrastructure that’s trusted and secure to run those models on and you have to maintain it. And then you have to actually take the recommendations and put those in the context of business users.”
Putting AI tools into the CRM makes them immediately useful. There are tools that can predict which leads will turn into opportunities and which opportunities will close and become customers. And there are tools that can offer suggestions to sales reps and marketers, from nudging them to follow up on opportunities they’ve been neglecting, to detecting when a competitor is mentioned, to predicting when a customer will open an email or unsubscribe from a marketing campaign, to helping you craft an email that will appeal to the person you need to reach.
Some of this will be fairly general. For example, when Salesforce does lead scoring, Ball explains, “if an email is @yahoo.com then it’s probably not a good lead.” Some of is much more specific: The British brewery Marstons is using Customer Insights in Dynamics 365 to put customer details, from their favorite beers to whether they have unused vouchers, drawn from Facebook and TripAdvisor as well as its CRM on the handheld devices of pub staff. With that personalized information, the brewer is hoping to sell an extra meal and drink a day in each of its 550 venues.
AI features compared
At first glance, the AI features in Salesforce and Dynamics are similar. Dynamics builds intelligence into the standard workflow, while Salesforce has specific tools in its different offerings.
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