Salesforce's Ketan Karkhanis discusses Einstein Analytics at last month's Dreamforce event.

 

On the heels of an epic Dreamforce, the Einstein Analytics team is headed this week to GartnerIT Symposium. We sat down to talk with Einstein Analytics GM Ketan Karkhanis on the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and business intelligence (BI), what an intelligent analytics experience looks like and how Einstein Analytics Plus sets the new standard for a modern analytics platform.

It’s a few weeks after Dreamforce. What was most impactful for you from the four days of keynotes, sessions, demos, parties and concerts?

For me personally Dreamforce is about getting inspired by our customers. There’s so much innovation and energy from all of our Trailblazers—absolutely nothing like it in the world. This year has been huge for Analytics. Companies realize that it’s imperative to be data-driven across their organization and that data should inform every business process, otherwise they’ll miss out on key trends impacting their business.

What exactly is Einstein Analytics Plus?

It’s a complete AI-powered analytics platform that helps companies and business users automatically discover and visualize trends in their data, get predictions on those trends and prescriptive recommendations on what to do next—and it’s completely transparent.

Can you elaborate more on what’s unique about Einstein Analytics Plus?

The easiest way to think about it is that now we’re bringing together Analytics + AI and its infused in the business application. Analytics lets you see what is happening in your business and why and now with AI, we can get a glimpse of what may happen in the future and what to do about it. It is baked into every business process—making people smarter and more productive. That’s a very powerful proposition that can change how businesses operate.

 

 

 

Is this what you call an “intelligent experience”?

Exactly. Intelligent experience is our vision for Einstein Analytics. Analytics needs to be a seamless part of the CRM user’s everyday experience. It needs to be baked into people’s day job— whether they’re a sales rep or service agent. And, if done well, analytics becomes invisible — it’s just there, making the user smarter.

There are six pillars to creating an intelligent experience that I always share with customers:

  1. AI Built-In: We’re drowning in data and synthesizing billions of data points is something that humans simply weren’t wired to do. Built-in AI automates the process of discovering insights and making predictions from massively large amounts of complex data.

  2. Outcomes Focused: From all that data, you need recommendations and explanations as to why something happened. Better yet, predictive outcomes for the future. You don't need yet another dashboard that tells you about the past. You need better ways to predict the future.

  3. Complete: Too often, analytics is siloed requiring people to pivot between different analytics apps. Now, we have a complete analytics platform that is diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive - all in one integrated experience.

  4. Actionable: I like to say that AI also stands for “Actionable Insights.” It must be connected to the business process in order to be effective.

  5. Simple: It needs to be dead simple. Intuitive, click-based and you don’t need to hire a SWAT team of data analysts. This is about amplifying you and your skills and leveraging your existing teams.

  6. Trusted & Transparent: And most of all, you have to trust the data. It must be powerful and you need transparency into how it’s creating the recommendations or predictions (no black box).

     

 

Are those pillars what’s in Einstein Analytics Plus?

Yes! Einstein Analytics Plus lets you discover insights, predict outcomes and is connected to CRM. It has breathtaking visualizations and the AI is powerful, and transparent—no black box. And, no coding is required. We want to keep things simple. One of my favorite features in Einstein Analytics Plus is  Einstein Data Insights. It tells you exactly what’s going on and then surfaces those insights to you seamlessly in operational reports within Salesforce.

What else does Einstein Analytics Plus do? 

As you might have seen at Dreamforce, we launched Einstein Voice. We believe that voice is the next major user interface and that conversational CRM has huge potential. Earlier this year, we launched Conversational Queries which lets users type phrases in natural language (like “show me top accounts by annual revenue”) and instantly view answers in automatically configured charts. Now with Einstein Voice for Analytics, we’re taking it a step further and empowering users to talk to their data. They can navigate reports and dashboards with voice commands, which is very powerful. Imagine a sales manager leading a meeting with her sales team and walking them through the data using her voice.

Einstein Analytics Plus also has Einstein Discovery, which examines billions of data combinations of Salesforce (and non-Salesforce data) in minutes and tells you why something is happening. The new Einstein Prediction Builder lets you drill down and create a prediction on a single object. And we even have 50+ new out-of-the-box templates that accelerate the journey to analytics in record time by giving you the data flow and the app structure — all without spinning up an IT project.

What are your thoughts on trust and transparency in AI?

It’s everything. AI must be transparent and teams must have full access to the underlying models. And that has to be democratized so that anyone in the organization can access and understand it. To do that, we’re focused on two concepts— 1) making sure that the algorithmic model is explainable and there’s a story behind the insights and 2) keeping it accountable so that it measures the performance and warns users if there is bias in the model via a pop-up alert.

 

 

 

What’s the #1 thing you’re most excited about for the coming year?

Oh, it’s tough to limit it to just one thing. But since you insist, it’s seeing what our customers do with Einstein Analytics. I truly believe that technology is just an enabler. Real transformation requires Trailblazers, the people who are innovating with our technology for their companies. I’m extremely proud of our team and what they’ve built over the last couple years — I believe it’s the best in the industry. But it takes the Trailblazers to bring it to life and make the magic happen. That’s what fires me up and makes me excited to do my job everyday.

Check out Ketan and team in the Einstein Analytics DF18 keynote!

To learn more about Einstein Analytics Plus, click here.