The Future is Here: How AI is Changing Business Processes

May 28, 2018

The AI revolution is upon us and it is drastically altering the way we do business. Gone are the days of manually processing large chunks of data. Instead replaced by a process known as Machine Learning. Before we dive into that, let’s begin with a brief history lesson on how the term AI came about.

How The AI Revolution Got Started

John McCarthy first coined the term artificial intelligence in 1955. He organized the Dartmouth Conference in the Summer of 1956 to develop ideas about thinking machines and selected Artificial Intelligence as the field. It later went on to become the basis for AI research.

John McCarthy is regarded as one of the founding fathers of AI along with Marvin Minsky, Herbert Simon, and Allen Newell. Each possessed impressive credentials and backgrounds. McCarthy, Newell, and Minsky were all computer and cognitive scientists, and Simon was a famed American economist and political scientist.

The group of scientists were instrumental in major breakthroughs and achievements in the field of artificial intelligence. McCarthy helped establish the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) and Minsky invented the Head-mounted display (HMD), the predecessor to what we know today as Virtual Reality (VR), popularized by the Oculus Rift and what major companies like Facebook are heavily investing in. The future.


So, What Exactly is Machine Learning?

Machine Learning is simply a way of training an algorithm to slowly pick up and recognize our patterns over time.

A good example of this would be Facebook’s use of facial recognition on photo tagging. Facebook heavily relies on sophisticated machine learning algorithms to detect certain features on each image, making it possible to almost automatically tag friends due to Facebook recognizing who they are, and suggesting the tag.

What’s even more impressive is that they are using a machine learning feature called “automatic alternative text” which uses object recognition technology to create a description of a photo for the blind or visually impaired.

Netflix recommendations is another great example of machine learning. They custom tailor selections based on your viewing history, similar to how YouTube provides you with suggestions of videos to watch next or videos you may be interested in watching later on.

These insights on consumer behavior are absolutely invaluable for businesses, especially when the consumers are willingly providing companies with personal data each time they log on to their favorite social network, movie streaming platform, or whenever they leave reviews on items and services on Amazon or Yelp.

Building The Future of AI with Salesforce Einstein

Salesforce Einstein now powers over 1 billion AI predictions per day

Salesforce is at the forefront of this futuristic data revolution with Salesforce Einstein.

Sales Cloud Einstein enables sales reps to better predict customer behavior through a wide range of AI-powered features such as Einstein Opportunity Scoring and Einstein Forecasting.

The upgraded version of Opportunity Scoring relies on machine learning to view the history of sales transactions, email interactions, and meetings in order to determine a rating for a given opportunity.

The newly improved Email Insights can analyze a large volume of emails and let a salesperson know if the customer wants to request a meeting. An extremely valuable insight that can quickly determine the interest level of the lead or prospect.

On the marketing side of things is an amazing feature called Einstein Vision. Einstein Vision for Social Studio is an AI-powered image recognition tool similar to Facebook’s photo tagging. Marketers can better monitor and track their brand and identity on social media.

They can quickly see when their company’s logos are appearing throughout events on social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook. Marketers can quickly respond if their brand is being mentioned by the amount of shares the image is receiving on Twitter.

A huge selling point for marketing and sales professionals.

Another particular area where Einstein’s AI truly shines is its Product Recommendations from Commerce Cloud. Product Recommendations automate items based on each web page the customer was on. Once a shopper adds an item to their cart, the retailer is then able to correctly predict what other items that person might want to buy or will think of buying at a later time through purchasing behavior. That process eliminates all the guesswork and wasted ad spend.

Understanding purchasing behavior and customer buying habits are the key driving factors of continued success for any major retailer. They can better upsell and cross-sell customers based on just a few clicks and save tremendous amounts of time and money in the process and provide better overall shopping experiences.

Companies that are taking advantage of these smart AI features are reaping the rewards through increased sales, brand loyalty, and gain a deeper understanding of their customer.

Which brings us to the next part of AI...


What is Deep Learning?



Deep Learning is in the same family as Machine Learning, only it places more emphasis on the human brain. Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) are algorithms that mimic the biological structure of the human brain.

A Neural Network is a machine learning algorithm based on the model of a human neuron. These neurons are connected with a special structure known as synapses, which allow neurons to pass signals and is used in purchasing patterns. Absolutely invaluable information for any sales, data, or marketing team.

A fascinating area of Deep Learning is Sequence Prediction.

Sequence prediction is the ability to understand sequential data, such as a sequence of characters or a set of observations over time. Observing a customer’s past sequences enables you to learn their patterns and gain a deep understanding of future sequences to fine-tune the algorithms to match these patterns.

Generative Models are comprised of generative adversarial networks, a class of AI algorithms that can mimic images to look like human faces but in fact are computer generated. These images are so realistic that people have often mistaken them for being real.

Baidu, which is China’s version of Google, is banking big time on the use of generative models such as voice recognition named Deep Voice that aims to have a lasting impact on natural language processing, another component of the Deep Learning network. This technology is currently paving the way for chatbots to get smarter and eventually replace live support agents.

Deep Learning plays a huge role in customer purchasing behavior and sales forecasting over time. Deep Learning can even detect fraud in insurance claims and determine which loan applicants have the best credit score for banks to lend money to.

Understanding how the human brain functions allow the algorithms to better predict customer behavior as well as breaking down large amounts of data sets within a few seconds.

Fast Food Companies Embracing The AI Revolution

(img src WSJ)


McDonald’s has been looking towards the future, offering digital touchpoint kiosks that aim to increase orders and improve their digital menus displays. These “smart” menus are actually capable of checking the weather and automatically suggesting items that do better when it’s warm outside such as a delicious vanilla milkshake or a warm baked apple pie and hot fries when it is cold and raining.

Ed Resni, the former McDonald’s USA CEO once got into hot water with his statement to Fox Business that, “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries.”

Although that might seem a bit harsh, it’s not that far off from the truth. The goal of these digital kiosks is to eventually replace cashiers.

McDonald’s isn’t the only fast food chain successfully experimenting with AI. Taco Bell has jumped onto the AI train with its TacoBot, an AI-powered chatbot that answers consumers questions in real-time, courtesy of Slack and most notably Domino’s Pizza with its DRU Drone by Flirtey GPS tracking pizza delivery services (although only available in New Zealand at the moment).

Domino’s also uses robots that resemble water coolers with wheels to deliver pizzas to hungry customers in Germany and the Netherlands. This translates to faster delivery times and more orders, not to mention more predictive orders based on current patterns.

KFC has partnered with Baidu to develop an AI-powered restaurant that utilizes facial recognition to offer items on the menu before the customer can make a selection. Still in its early phases of production, this service is aimed to identify personal characteristics that may influence food choices such as age, gender, and current mood.

Talk about food for thought!

Does this mean that certain technologies such as drone pizza delivery or digital touchpoint kiosks can replace cashiers and delivery drivers?

The short answer is yes, although businesses won’t admit it.

The benefits are tremendous. Reduced labor costs such as employee training and insurance will be eclipsed by more accurate data about their customers from the fast-paced connected world of AI and IoT technology. Well worth the investment for companies and shareholders, given the exponential value customers receive in return. A win-win situation for everyone.

Of course, all of this data will have to be processed and who better than Salesforce to lend a helping virtual hand.

Tech Companies Leading The Way in AI

AI is an extremely hot topic in the high tech world right now.

So hot that most of the big names are shelling out enormous sums of money to acquire AI startups. You would expect giants like Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google to be at the head of the line in terms of AI breakthroughs and you’d be absolutely right.

Then there are other big names that are leading the way in the AI revolution.

Salesforce is a major player in the AI field. Back in 2016, the CRM giant acquired MetaMind, founded by Salesforce’s Chief Scientist and AI pioneer, Richard Sorcher, now known as Einstein for $32.8M. A tremendous acquisition that has established Salesforce as a dominant leader in the AI revolution.

Salesforce isn’t alone in the AI race.

Google is among the industry leaders in AI innovation and technology. Their first real foray into the artificial intelligence world came with Google Glass. Google Glass is an optical head-mounted display that features facial recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing.

People were able to communicate via natural language voice commands while connected to the Internet. It provided tremendous benefits for physicians during surgical procedures by allowing the doctors to view CT scans and pull up charts of the patients in real-time.

Google Glass was also used to help children with autism by learning about their facial recognition and emotions. The Machine Learning system was designed by a team of Stanford researchers and engineers to automate facial expression recognition and record the amount and type of eye contact, crucial for understanding behavioral intervention.

Despite not taking off as planned, it fueled the Internet search giant to delve deeper into the field of AI and focus on new innovations and technologies.

In 2014, Google paid a whopping $500M to acquire DeepMind, a British learning algorithm startup to further add to their Google AI and Google Brain arsenal. Google is determined to get their autonomous cars across the states, one way or another, amid stringent regulations.

Google’s self-driving arm, Waymo, announced a partnership with Intel in 2017 to develop autonomous driving technology together, not long after Intel had acquired Israel’s Mobileye for an unprecedented sum of $15B, making it one of the largest tech acquisitions of all time.

Waymo’s fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans have Intel sensor processing chips build inside that allow the vehicles to handle large amounts of data in order to make more accurate autonomous decision-making.

Waymo uses artificial intelligence to train its vehicles for situations like maneuvering through construction zones, moving over for emergency vehicles, and even making room for cars that are parallel parking. Its sensors can detect pedestrians, vehicles, and major road work from the equivalent of three football fields away!

Waymo’s sensors and technology can also predict the behavior of cyclists and detect their hand signals to allow them to pass safely and prevent unneeded accidents. This technology comes in handy during hazardous weather conditions such as icy roads and heavy rainfall when visibility is significantly limited.

And speaking of self-driving vehicles…

(img src Fortune)


Uber is miles ahead (pardon the pun) in terms of their incredible AI breakthroughs. They are completely focused on the future of AI and the next generation of machine learning algorithms through their Uber AI Labs with hopes of saving lives by preventing accidents.

Their fleet of self-driving cars rely on Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) and other deep learning technologies that power safer and more reliable transportation solutions.

Uber also uses natural language understanding to quickly resolve support tickets and Deep Probabilistic Programming Language called Pyro to match riders to drivers, suggest optimal routes, and even finding sensible pool combinations.

And then we have Amazon…

Alexa is to Amazon what Siri is to Apple. It is Amazon’s virtual assistant and AI mastermind.

Alexa can perform a multitude of tasks simply by voice command. It can be integrated with smart-home gadgets such as Nest products to turn off the lights, lock the doors, or adjust your thermostat.

The AI technology powering Alexa is Alexa Voice Service (AVS). AVS is Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service that allows you to voice-enable any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.



The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker that features Alexa voice-controlled integration. It can stream music through Spotify, power Nest products, hail an Uber to the airport, sync with Google Calendar, read your favorite Kindle books, give you restaurant recommendations, and even pay off your credit card bill via Capital One.

All of these amazing voice recognition features are made possible thanks to Conversational AI. And you can be certain Amazon will only continue to disrupt the AI field with further advancements in research and product development within the near future.

You can check out a list of all the AI acquisitions compiled by Index here.

In the B2B space, Apttus is leading the way with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing through it's Max Proactive, recently announced at Apttus Accelerate.

Max Proactive is a new set of applied AI capabilities that radically extend the ability of Apttus Max to help businesses increase productivity and grow revenue faster by extending selling and revenue-making activity around-the-clock. For more details on Max Proactive, you can read the announcement here.

What’s Next?

As artificial intelligence continues to evolve, so will businesses that fully embrace it. Industries of all kinds will benefit from Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and all the other facets of the AI-powered revolution.

The only question remains, are you ready to join the AI revolution?

A special thanks to our guest contributor and Salesforce MVP and Advocacy Manager at Apttus, Eric Dreshfield. It was an absolute pleasure collaborating with you. Look forward to future collaborations. You are awesome!

Make sure you check out this awesome TEDx Talk from Richard Socher on Where AI is today and where it's going here.

You can learn more on how Einstein incorporates AI tactics in business through Salesforce Einstein Trailhead here.