Every day more and more articles and research reports are coming out regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI). Many perceive AI in the way Hollywood has portrayed it, not really relevant to their business needs, as too expensive to actually implement, or just another quasi-defined term within the industry. Even The New York Times described artificial intelligence as something that “is invoked as if its meaning were self-evident, but it has always been a source of confusion and controversy.”

In last year's report from the World Economic Forum, one of the six megatrends was AI and big data and how “exponential digitization creates exponentially more data – about everything and everyone.” With more and more connected devices added to the market every year and increased internet access around the world, data is growing at an exponential rate. This means the adoption of technology that can address more sophisticated problems by learning and evolving from that data should be at the forefront of business strategy.

In fact, if we were to define AI in it’s simplest terms, it is an efficient way for improving how we solve problems in order to arrive at smarter insights, which means understanding our customers and potential customers better while removing the guesswork and process inefficiencies. This is especially important in today’s business landscape due to the ever-increasing collection of big data. Most companies can’t afford to hire a team of data scientists to comb through all the data collected and develop customized models to give them the most relevant insights into their customers or business processes. AI-enabled products and services make that data analysis easier and help democratize data in ways businesses never imagined.

The following are a few commonly asked questions about AI and Salesforce Einstein specifically. Since it’s launch in September 2016, Salesforce Einstein has been a hot topic of conversation, and it's not surprising. Here are a few commonly asked questions to help you get to know Salesforce Einstein better.

What is Salesforce Einstein and how much does it cost?

Salesforce Einstein is a set of advanced AI capabilities that arms every Salesforce customer with the ability to be smarter and more predictive about their customers. It’s embedded right into every Salesforce product, making the world’s #1 CRM the world’s smartest CRM. With it, everyone can deliver more personalized and predictive customer experiences because they get outcome predictions, proactive recommendations for the best next actions, and even automates tasks. Salesforce has built the AI functionality right into its apps and continues to do so.

The next logical question becomes how Salesforce Einstein compares to other enterprise AI offerings. The difference is that Salesforce Einstein is specifically integrated into the product itself so that companies can actually apply the AI technology to their business immediately. Unlike other solutions that require a group of data scientists and extensive resources to implement, Salesforce Einstein has AI built into our CRM to make it as simple to use as possible.

Einstein brings artificial intelligence to every Salesforce user. It is:

User-ready: Like the AI-powered features within consumer apps, Einstein just works. Salesforce users will experience the pervasive benefits of timely insights, relevant predictions, intelligent recommendations, and automated workflows within the context of their business and across sales, service, marketing, IT and more.

Data-ready: Once data is brought into Salesforce, it is ready to be leveraged within Einstein’s intelligent data models, without any additional data preparation requirements.

Model-ready: Einstein automatically customizes models for every single customer, with automatic feature engineering, sanity checking, hyper-parameter tuning, sampling and calibration.

Production-ready: No DevOps needed. Einstein is part of the same trusted, metadata-driven and multi-tenant Salesforce Platform, with built-in model management and monitoring tools.

As far as cost, some features are already included in existing Salesforce licenses and editions while others will be considered add-ons. This means that businesses get faster insights, more productivity, and predictions built into their existing products.

How much control do I have over my data?

Because there’s so much ambiguity surrounding what AI is, many businesses are skeptical about just how much control they’ll have over their data or who has access to it. But here at Salesforce trust is our #1 value and just like any other Salesforce product, customer's data is safe and protected. With Salesforce Einstein, customers’ data is solely in their control and never shared with another customer.

And, for every prediction Salesforce Einstein makes, it provides the reasons why it’s prioritized those insights and predictions. It continually learns as it goes, and the more customers provide feedback the smarter Salesforce Einstein becomes.

Is it easy to setup?

Salesforce Einstein was created to make all of Salesforce smarter. Businesses don’t have to do data preparation or manage models. Instead, they just import their data into Salesforce, and Salesforce Einstein immediately gets to work. It automatically cleans, preps and analyzes the data so that when you work on the platform, you'll be automatically served with Salesforce Einstein's insights, regardless if you're working in sales, service or marketing. Plus, Einstein takes the heavy lifting out of building and managing models and is constantly improving and learning from the data in order to serve up better recommendations.

In the end, AI is all about using data to search for commonalities to establish basic patterns and then more complex ones in order to remove the guesswork in the every day interactions with customers. According to Timo Elliott, algorithms provide “...new paths through typical business questions such as 'What's happening now? What do I need to know? What do you recommend? What should I always do? What can I expect to happen? What can I avoid?...'." Salesforce Einstein does just that. It utilizes this exponential growth of data to make every interaction smarter for businesses and their customers.

For more information about Salesforce Einstein and how Salesforce is thinking about artificial intelligence, visit www.einstein.com.