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Salesforce today announced Einstein Relationship Insights (ERI), an AI-powered research tool that autonomously explores the internet and internal data sources to discover relationships between customers, prospects, and companies. Salesforce claims ERI can help sales reps close deals faster by acting as a virtual agent for salespeople in all industries, scanning news articles, social media, collaboration apps, email, and other online sources to uncover and deliver account and contact information.

Forrester predicts that spend on marketing automation tools will grow “vigorously” over the next few years, reaching $25.1 billion annually by 2023 from $11.4 billion in 2017. It’s estimated that 55% of marketing decision-makers plan to increase their spending on marketing technology — including AI and machine learning — with one-fifth of the respondents expecting to increase by 10% or more.

ERI is a desktop plugin that works alongside sales reps by surfacing information from each data source, offering a single-click customer relationship management update capability to directly import information from various silos. For example, ERI highlights relevant personnel or companies in the data source, like a new article, and then shows the sales rep all relevant connections directly within that data source.

Because it’s integrated with Salesforce, sales reps can update their customer relationship management databases with a single click to enrich account and contact records. And combining it with customer relationship management data could allow sales reps to engage in more relevant and strategic conversations with their customers to accelerate sales and generate new business opportunities.


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“With AI, ERI saves individual sales reps more than a dozen hours every week on manual prospecting and delivers more than 5 times the number of insights,” a Salesforce spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. “For example, financial advisors can reduce, if not eliminate, cold calling prospective clients … Medtech reps can use relationship networks to connect with key health care provider decision-makers and pharmaceutical reps to connect with physicians and clinicians that have mutual connections.”

The power of AI

Forrester Research recently wrote that companies “have to rebuild their businesses, not for today, or even next year, but to prepare to compete in an AI-driven future.” Reflecting this changing landscape, IDC expects global spending on AI to more than double to $110 billion in 2024, up from $50 billion in 2020.

“Salespeople should be able to focus on the areas that matter most, like high-touch online or in-person customer interactions, and leverage technology as an assistant to handle the mundane task of finding relevant insights,” ERI senior director of product management Jason Briggs said in a statement. “ERI can do this at a pace and scale that is impossible for any human to do. This is a glimpse into the future of how humans will successfully work in tandem with AI.”

Einstein Relationships Insights, which will be generally available in June 2021, is powered by Salesforce’s Einstein, the AI platform that delivers predictions across all of the company’s cloud-hosted products. Just over four years after Einstein’s debut, Salesforce announced that the platform is delivering more than 80 billion AI-powered predictions every day, up from 6.5 billion predictions in October 2019.

The Einstein platform is the purview of Salesforce Research, a unit previously led by former Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher. (Socher, who joined Salesforce through the company’s acquisition of MetaMind in 2016, left in July 2020.) To train its underlying algorithms, Salesforce Research’s hundreds of data scientists draw from sources that include the anonymized content in emails, calendar events, tweets, Chatter activity, and customer data. Salesforce says innovations in Einstein arise from scientific investigations into computer vision, natural language models, translation, and simulation.

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