One of the most frequently discussed topics in business today is artificial intelligence (AI) — it’s also arguably one of the most critical technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A quick AI search on Google returns over 100 million results. The impacts are mentioned in daily articles and implications widely debated. As part of the Success Cloud at Salesforce, our customers are continually seeking advice on becoming a customer company and how to do this in a predictive capacity.  They are inquiring about AI, our product Einstein, and how this will impact the 4th Industrial revolution and customer success recommendations.  

AI, by the simplest definition, is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. These machines learn through attainment of information and applying rules, reason by using the rules to reach conclusions, and applying correction to the rules for better predictions. This is very powerful when you think about our current use of AI in the financial sector for algorithmic financial trading strategies, predictive patient monitoring in the medical industry or vehicular and object detection for autonomous driving vehicles. But how does this intersect with the emotional and creative capabilities of humans as a ‘trusted advisor’ and delivering customer success?

Being a ‘trusted advisor’ is to bring not just intelligence and experience to advisory, but also emotional quotient (EQ) and creative quotient (CQ) into the customer relationship — a popular and timely topic in its own right. By the formal Webster’s definition, trust is the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something” and to give advice is “to provide guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.” Merging these two definitions one could summarize a trusted advisor as one who provides a “reliable recommendation.”

AI is quickly seeping into our consumer lives and already acting as our ‘advisor.’ You receive ‘reliable recommendations’ every day when using Amazon, Netflix and Spotify. Amazon may have even made too many reliable recommendations — as seen by the amount of money our household spent over the holidays! As I write this blog, my Spotify is humanizing data and predicting a playlist for me. Now imagine if an automated customer success advisor can be equipped with powers to plan, empathize, imagine, perceive, analyze, communicate and predict a strategic business decisions. Customers are hungry for timely, comprehensive, and bias-free insights. Just as the technology impacts your customers across all industries, from retail and banking to logistics and pharmaceuticals, so too it should be part of your customer success offering. Becoming an insights-driven business and using insights to fuel interactions is at the heart of AI and customer success.

One of my favorite insights is from Richard Socher, Chief Scientist at Salesforce, and in his recent TedX Talks “Where AI is today and where it’s going.” He says, “Human Intelligence and productivity get enhanced when we can focus on unique, creative and empathetic tasks.” I predict this will further be complemented by AI during the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Already, leaders are starting to use artificial intelligence to automate mundane tasks such as calendar maintenance and making phone calls. But AI can also help support more complex decisions in key areas such as human resources, budgeting, marketing, capital allocation, and even corporate strategy. Human interactions and a personalized, connected relationship with your customer will be status quo for the foreseeable future, but how we will use AI to drive customer success, extend customer predictions, and validate recommendations is fast approaching. Perhaps sooner than we think, global business leaders could be asking an automated advisor, “What is the product line profitability and adoption predictions for our digital model?” or “What is the greatest risk facing our digital strategy?”