The number of channels customers use to interact with businesses have increased drastically over the past few years. With the amount of information businesses have on their customers, Artificial intelligence may help in optimizing the client and customer interactions.
The five major Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vendors in the market Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and Adobe systems make up almost half of the entire CRM Market. All of them have been heavily investing on the development of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
In this article, we’ll explore the AI capabilities that are available with these companies, measurable results available from Artificial Intelligence applications in CRM, new AI applications being developed.
Microsoft relies heavily on Artificial intelligence and machine learning for its dynamics 365 CRM. Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM offers several inbuilt integrations with Machine learning capabilities including demand forecasting, lead generation, sales, finance and operations and product recommendation.
Microsoft in association with Adobe have been steadily expanding their CRM Partnership over the past year to combine their AI abilities. Both companies are collaborating on semantic data model to understand and drive real-time customer engagement. Microsoft Dynamics 365 leverages AI to power your prospecting using “Relationship assistant”. Microsoft started integrating Adobe’s e-signature system as their preferred e-signature solution and Adobe is using Microsoft’s new chat – based work space as their collaboration tool for their cloud services.
Microsoft too has acquired a few companies over the last few years.
Genee: An AI firm that uses natural language processing to help automate the process of scheduling with potential clients.
Maluuba: Microsoft acquired Maluuba, an AI company focused on areas reading comprehension, understanding dialogue and general intelligence capabilities such as reasoning, memory and information seeking behaviour.
Microsoft deploys machine learning to utilize past data to accurately predict future. This can help businesses in almost all the departments like:
• Ad targeting
• Recommendations based on purchase history
• Image identification and classification
• Automatic spam filtering
• Anomaly detection
Salesforce is major player in this segment and is aggressively investing in Artificial Intelligence for their CRM. Salesforce has been acquiring AI companies and developing in house AI based solutions. Salesforce introduced their AI tool, Einstein which can provide account insights, automated data entry, ad personalization, lead prioritization, product recommendations, insights into social media conversations and several other features.
Salesforce is adding new capabilities too Einstein. Einstein Intent and Einstein Sentiment are the two functions that are in beta phase now. They classify whether the text of a message is emotionally positive or negative using natural language processing and determine the intent of the message. For example, A company can use Einstein Sentiment to determine the tone of the inbound customer emails and accordingly segregate the brand positive audience and dissatisfied clients and take the necessary actions. Einstein Intent can help in classifying each negative response and identifying the source of customer dissatisfaction.
Salesforce is also working on Einstein vision that can be used in CRM to help customers find products, help customer service teams to identify a product related customer complaint. Salesforce has another pilot in Einstein Object detection. It is designed to detect and classify objects and identify objects in an image with their location.
In March 2019, Salesforce team up with IBM to integrate Watson’s data and tool into their CRM to provide their clients access to Watson’s existing information sources and its’ ability to analyze data.
The below video highlights a few capabilities of IBM and Salesforce integration:
Salesforce acquired several AI start-ups to aid in their investments in Artificial Intelligence applications:
PredictionIO: Salesforce acquired the open source machine learning company for their technology and donated the open source addition to Apache Software Foundation.
MinHash: Salesforce acquired this AI company that looks for marketing trends and shut it down after the acquisition.
Tempo: Salesforce acquired this AI powered smart calendar app that provides the information required for your meetings.
MetaMind: Salesforce acquired this deep learning company that specialized in technology.
Being one of the biggest players in the CRM space, Salesforce’s interest to heavily invest in AI in CRM is reasonable as the CRM services are becoming highly competitive.
Like Salesforce, SAP is building machine vision applications for it’s Hybris CRM. SAP Hybris sells omnichannel Customer engagement and commerce solutions. SAP announced machine learning facial recognition capacity for Hybris which allows the stores to automatically determine the age and gender of the customers coming to their locations and make personalized recommendations based on the captured information. SAP is also developing a customer facing chatbot named “Charly” which is designed to function as a digital assistant for individual customers to help them find products, request refunds for them, make product recommendations.
SAP is also working on a robot “Pepper Instore Assistance” that acts as a personal, in-store customer service agent. Even though both Charly and Pepper Instore Assistance are in prototype phase, it’s not clear how they’ll be integrated into Hybris
Oracle has been focused on specific Artificial Intelligence and machine learning applications in their cloud services instead of creating a single, all inclusive AI Application. Oracle has been developing ready to use app that can be easily tailored to specific uses. Oracle announced the launch of its intelligent cloud applications on the same day when Salesforce announced Einstein.
Oracle has introduced several new AI powered functions to their customer experience cloud. They have introduced AI-powered personalized marketing /experience, predictive recommendations, chatbots and optimizing the selling process for representatives. Oracle says that their biggest advantage in Artificial Intelligence is their unique access to enterprise data. They claim to gather 7.5 trillion data points every month. These data points include historical and dynamics customer data such as social activities and click-stream, look a like audience.
Oracle bought Crosswire, a data company that provides machine-learning based cross- device data, which can be used cross-device advertising, personalization and analytics. Oracle has added this technology to augment its data cloud platform.
While Some of the uses of AI in CRM are new and are in pilot stages, they could change the CRM platforms significantly in the next few years. There are numerous applications of AI being developed now and can impact CRM. For AI to create a big impact, companies don’t need all the applications that are being developed. Only time will tell which AI applications will become significantly useful for customers in the future- but in the CRM space, the race is on.