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Salesforce and IBM: Two AI powerhouses extend their partnership

Salesforce and IBM are getting together on a number of fronts, and though it may seem like an unlikely relationship — the dynamic young Salesforce and the dinosaur that practically invented computers — have a lot to offer each other. While the more recent announcement is with regards to data integration, the relationship officially began in March in the field of Artificial intelligence. What started with Einstein and Watson getting together and sharing some brain cells is now turning into a much deeper alliance.

Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive of Salesforce, was quoted saying “I’m thrilled to form an alliance with IBM. No company’s core values are as close to Salesforce’s as IBM’s. It’s the best of both worlds.” It’s pretty strange that Salesforce and IBM would have the same core company values, but the match definitely looks like it’s working.

Watson and Einstein

The original deal gave Salesforce customers direct access to data from Watson’s AI platform and also saw IBM sign up to use the Salesforce Service Cloud internally. Two AI powerhouses seamlessly connecting to enable an entirely new level of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, and marketing sounds almost dangerous.

The leading AI platform for business and the AI that powers the world’s No. 1 CRM working together through APIs is difficult to comprehend at first. An example of the capabilities of this integration is where the real story lies. The example given by officials of both companies was of an email campaign for shoppers sent using Einstein’s data on customers, integrated with Watson’s weather and broad retail industry data.

All about the weather

The weather is where the real story lies. IBM bought The Weather Co. in 2015, and the new joint products will bring IBM Weather Insights, as well as IBM Cloud Integration, to Salesforce customers. Additionally, it will also enable IBM customers to easily build apps that include Salesforce data.

While Salesforce will also be adding the ability to include IBM weather data in Lightning apps, Salesforce AppExchange will include its Weather Co. business as a Lightning component. This component will provide weather updates that trigger customer interactions. A good example is an insurance company sending safety and policy information to customers in areas with severe weather conditions. In such an event, local forecast data from IBM Weather will be pulled into Salesforce, and customers will be notified automatically.

That’s not all there is about the weather. The Weather Co. is also powering three new Lightning components on the Salesforce AppExchange called Weather Focus, Weather Recorder, and Scheduling Assistant. Weather Focus lets users build intelligent applications that access live weather data. For example, a customer in charge of deliveries could easily have dates automatically changed in accordance with weather forecasts.

Weather Recorder gives users the ability to record weather with specific date and time information to a Salesforce case record. Salesforce mentions an insurance agent handling a claim as a practical use case for the service. This could definitely be useful while trying to settle a claim on a weather catastrophe.

There’s also a Scheduling Assistant that lets you set up appointments based on weather data. This could be useful in case you need to be somewhere and want to make sure there isn’t a hurricane anywhere around.

IBM Cloud Integration

That isn’t the end of the announcement, either. IBM is also incorporating Salesforce data into IBM applications. This means that while users can build Salesforce apps that can access weather data info from IBM, they can also incorporate Salesforce data into IBM apps with IBM Cloud Integration for Salesforce.

IBM Cloud Integration for Salesforce gives IBM users the tools to build integrations through Salesforce Connect. This is especially useful for developers making Lightning apps that interact with employees. This is also useful for using Salesforce data to deal with specific customer needs and habits.

Additionally this integration makes it a lot easier to integrate and manage data as it moves between the Salesforce platform and existing ones, either in the cloud or on-premises. This is because all cognitive functioning is done without disturbing core data flows.

For IBM, it couldn’t have asked for a younger or more dynamic partner to help it stay relevant in an industry that’s changing every day. On the other hand, Salesforce probably couldn’t ask for a more experienced partner, either. In an industry where disruption of legacy systems seems to be the name of the game, teaming up with potential enemies to improve end-user experience seems to be the best move an organization can make. Additionally, adding intelligence into customer and employee-facing applications translates into profits and happier customers, which is always a good thing.

And the cherry on top

Salesforce is making all kinds of friends, and it’s not just Fortune 500 companies like IBM. Rajani Ramanathan, former COO of technology and products at Salesforce, was quoted saying “The CloudCherry and Salesforce integration provides a one-stop solution to optimize interactions from the customer’s perspective. It fosters customer loyalty and enables organizations to track, analyze and take strategic action on every customer interaction throughout the customer lifecycle.”

Ramanathan is currently on the board of directors of the Bengaluru-based CloudCherry, which is a customer experience software solution provider, and pretty new on Salesforce’s friends list. The company is backed by Vertex Ventures, CISCO Investments and IDG Ventures India. Salesforce has integrated this CX solution with its service cloud and marketing cloud, which is expected to further improve handling of customer issues and drive higher satisfaction ratings.

How CloudCherry works is it has about 17 different channels that organizations can use to capture data from customers. This data is then fed to a customer operations team, whether it be a contact center or a specific person. CloudCherry’s engine can also route emergency cases to managers based on levels of priority. There are also a lot of options for employees working on CloudCherry. An example is that a CX agent can view a customer’s previous feedback or comments to further personalize the experience,

This integration makes a lot of sense, as now instead of mass-mailing campaigns targeting thousands of customers on Salesforce, data can be filtered through CloudCherry, and more specific targets can be approached in a much more personal way. This not only improves sales but even allows better judgment for up-sell opportunities as well.

The unstoppable force

It’s not surprising that an organization whose CRM is the bestselling in the world is focused on customers. It’s definitely something that the most successful companies have in common, like AWS, Azure, and Google. The entire DevOps/container/microservice architecture is all about pushing that end-user experience up one level at a time, and Salesforce is definitely on top of its game. Making the right friends is as important handling business, and both IBM and CloudCherry are great for business.

As far as SaaS goes, there’s no denying that Salesforce is definitely the top dog. By aligning with the granddaddy of computers itself, Salesforce is solidifying that position and making it much harder for any competitor to catch up.

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