It has become apparent in recent weeks that generative AI has the potential to transform how we interact with software, allowing us to describe what we want instead of clicking or tapping. That shift could have a profound impact on enterprise software. At the Salesforce World Tour NYC event last week, that vision was on full display.
Consider that during the 67-minute main keynote, it took less than five minutes for Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin to introduce the subject of ChatGPT. The company then spent the next 40 minutes and several speakers talking about generative AI and the impact it would have across the entire platform. The final speaker talked about Data Cloud, an adjacent technology. It’s fair to say that other than a few minutes of introduction, it was all the company talked about.
That included discussions of EinsteinGPT, a tool for asking questions about Salesforce content, and SlackGPT, a tool for asking Slack questions about its content. In addition, the company talked about the ability to create landing pages on the fly, write sales emails (if that’s what you want) and write Apex code (Salesforce’s programming language) to programmatically trigger certain actions in a workflow, among other things.
When you think about the fact that generative AI wasn’t even really a thing people were talking about until OpenAI released ChatGPT at the end of last year, and events like this take months of planning, the company probably had to switch gears recently to focus its presentation so completely on this single subject.
Salesforce isn’t alone in its new focus on applying generative AI to its existing products and services. Over the past several months, we’ve seen many enterprise software companies announce plans to incorporate this technology into their stacks, even if overall most of these new tools are still a work in progress.
Just last week we had announcements from Zoho, Box and ServiceNow, while other companies too numerous to mention individually have made similar announcements in recent months.
A year after we saw the crypto and metaverse hype machines come crashing down, it’s fair to ask if these companies are moving too fast, chasing the next big shiny thing without considering some of the technology’s limitations, especially its well-documented hallucination problem. For this post, we are going to concentrate on Salesforce’s view of things and how it hopes to overcome some of those known issues when it comes to incorporating generative AI onto the platform.
Got 99 problems, but data ain’t one
Perhaps it’s unfair to put generative AI in the same category as other hyped technologies because we are only now seeing the direct impact of this approach. It took decades of research, development and technological shifts to get us to this point, said Juan Perez, Salesforce’s CIO, who is in charge of the company’s technology strategies.