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Business as a Platform for Change

Stories from 2020 You Might Have Missed: AI At Work, The Rise of the CMO, and Addressing Homelessness

2020 has been an unprecedented year. But in the midst of great challenge and disruption, some stories have shown us how progress can continue, how people will come together, and that technology can positively impact society when it needs it most. What follows are ten unexpected stories of how Salesforce partners, customers and employees have had an impact on their colleagues and communities.

1. AI at Work: Making Therapeutic Decision-Making for Breast Cancer More Accurate, Affordable and Accessible

Imagine being a doctor and having a precocious resident permanently by your side, giving you brilliant insight into disease and helping you to identify the best treatment path for your patients.

A team at Salesforce Research believes this scenario is closer to reality than you might think, as a result of a series of exciting developments in AI vision technology and machine learning…

ReceptorNet, developed in collaboration between Salesforce and Dr. David Agus at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC, is a deep-learning algorithm that can determine hormone-receptor status – a crucial biomarker for clinicians when deciding on the appropriate treatment path for breast cancer patients — with excellent sensitivity and specificity numbers.

tissue cell slides

Read on for the story behind ReceptorNet

2. Student Success Hub: Operationalizing Equity through Holistic Student Support

The old African proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child.” That’s exactly the philosophy behind Oakland Unified Schools District’s model, which focuses on connecting students to a range of services and opportunities to ensure they are caring, competent, fully-informed, critical thinkers who are prepared for college, career, and community success. But connecting students with the services to fill these needs can be difficult, especially during COVID-19 when referral forms can get lost and paperwork can easily fall through the cracks. The team at OUSD worked with Salesforce.org to apply technology to the problem. The result? A new Student Success Hub to connect the right student to the right support staff at the right time.

OUSD students
Students of Oakland Unified School District

Read on for Oakland’s story

3. A New Search Engine to Support the Fight Against COVID-19

From February to May 2020, the number of scientific papers published on COVID-19 skyrocketed from 29,000 to more than 138,000. As people around the world step up to help, the number will continue to grow exponentially, with projections to swell to more than 1,000,000 by the end of 2020.

That’s good news for the medical community and policymakers working on vaccines and treatments — but only if they’re able to efficiently search the growing body of research.

Read on for how Salesforce Research developed a tool to aid the search.

4. Salesforce.org Impact Labs: Teaming Up to Address Homelessness

As San Francisco’s leading service provider to families experiencing homelessness, Hamilton Families depends on technology to help families smoothly navigate the resources available in the Bay Area and help them to get stable. To Andrew Brannegan of Hamilton Families, that technology is falling short. 

Bringing together leading engineers, community experts, and governments, Impact Labs developed a solution to better address the challenges service providers face in supporting people experiencing homelessness — with Salesforce technology as the foundation. 

Read on for the story of Salesforce.org Impact Labs.

5. How Salesforce Sourced 50M+ Units of PPE in a Moment of Crisis*

You might be asking yourself, “How does a customer relationship management (CRM) company source 50M units of PPE?” 

What started with a phone call transformed into a multinational effort to support frontline organizations around the world — including hospitals, nursing facilities, fire departments, and underserved communities.

Plane filled with PPE that shipped to support the United Kingdom National Health Service

Read on for more on Salesforce’s efforts to source PPE. 

*Originally published on the Salesforce Blog 

6. The Doctor Will See You Now: The Rise of the Chief Medical Officer

Why does a doctor need to be in the C-suite of a tech company or any other business outside of the healthcare industry? Fact is, employee wellness is good for business, regardless of a company’s core focus. On top of that, every company has an end user that can be evaluated through the health lens — from restaurant servers and truck drivers to accountants and architects. Whatever the role, health matters — especially as health and wellness is on every business’ decision-makers mind as we attempt a return to work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read on more on the rise of the Chief Medical Officer.

7. How Salesforce Infuses Ethics into its AI

“I’m constantly thinking about what the potential intended and unintended consequences are of what we’re developing,” Kathy Baxter explains from her home office in Fremont, California. As Salesforce’s Architect of Ethical Artificial Intelligence Practice, overanalyzing is practically part of Baxter’s job description. Because while AI ranks atop the most promising technologies of the era, there are also plenty of ways it can go wrong.

Read on for how Salesforce infuses ethics into its AI.

8. Behind the Scenes on the Help NHS Heroes Initiative

On Friday, March 20, a social media post that had gone viral overnight. A critical care nurse, Dawn Bilbrough, had made a tearful request to the public to stop panic buying.

Bilbrough, who had just completed a grueling 48-hour shift at a York hospital, explained in her video that she had visited a store to pick up basic food items but was confronted by empty shelves. The nurse took to Facebook from the front seat of her car to tell the world: “So I’ve just come out of the supermarket. There’s no fruit and veg, and I had a little cry in there.” 
In partnership with Help NHS Heroes, Salesforce rallied together a team of volunteers to develop the Heroes app that connects fresh produce and other essential groceries for NHS hospital staff, while at their place of work.

Nurses at the maternity ward enjoy fresh produce and other groceries Source: Twitter

Read on for more on how one Salesforce team built a solution to support NHS workers.

9. Introducing the AI Economist: Why Salesforce Researchers are Applying Machine Learning to Economics

Taxes and subsidies are important tools governments use to reduce inequality and redistribute wealth. However, we still haven’t quite figured out how to implement optimal tax policies for a wide range of social objectives, such as the trade-off between equality and productivity. Economic theory cannot fully model the complexities of the real world, and careful real-world experimentation with taxes is almost impossible.

The AI Economist applies reinforcement learning (RL) to tax research for the first time to provide a simulation and data-driven solution to defining optimal taxes for a given socio-economic objective, a model that is 16% more effective than a leading tax framework. 

Read on for the story behind the project. 

10. How Companies are Using Scenario Planning to Map the Next Normal

Working with a team of experts, leading futurist and Salesforce’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, Peter Schwartz, has created a powerful scenario-planning tool to help leaders respond to these issues. By highlighting the main public health, economic, and sociopolitical dimensions of the current situation and putting them into a framework of critical uncertainties, the tool outlines three broadly applicable scenarios for the next 18­–36 months.

We spoke to Schwartz to find out more.