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IBM and Salesforce team to create giant AI CRM offer

Last week new IPA president Sarah Golding called for a more machine-friendly attitude from ad agencies, using the findings of artificial intelligence (A1) to help create more creative “magic.”

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle as we know, but it’s also true that you should be careful what you wish for.

The main worry for agencies is that some other, much bigger entities are better at this stuff than they are. Google and Facebook are pioneers in terms of buying AI operators (they buy anything that moves of course) but now two other really big players, IBM and Salesforce, are combining to leverage A1 by bringing together IBM’s Watson and Salesforce’s Einstein AI products. IBM’s Bluewolf consultancy has formed a new unit to market them.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty (below right with Salesforce’s Marc Benioff) says: “Within a few years, every major decision – personal or business – will be made with the help of AI and cognitive technologies. This year we expect Watson will touch one billion people, through everything from oncology and retail to tax preparation and cars. Now, with today’s announcement, the power of Watson will serve the millions of Salesforce and Einstein customers and developers to provide an unprecedented understanding of customers.”

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff says: “The combination of Einstein and Watson will make businesses smarter and our customers more successful. I’m thrilled to form an alliance with IBM, no company’s core values are as close to Salesforce’s as IBM’s. It’s the best of both worlds.”

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Among the goodies promised in the second half of 2017 is the ability for retailers to combine local shopping patterns, weather and retail industry data from Watson with customer-specific shopping data and preferences from Salesforce Einstein to send highly personalized and localized email campaigns to shoppers.

Agencies are clever at persuading clients that only they can orchestrate these tech instruments and, besides, you need creativity on top. But CRM agencies in particular are going to have to look to their laurels as these two giants try to show they can do it all – automatically.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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