Salesforce announces $4bn AI investment for UK & releases new GPT features
Salesforce has earmarked $4bn to fuel AI innovation in the UK market over the next five years, UK&I chief executive Zahra Bahrololoumi announced during the London leg of its annual World tour.
The US software giant, which specialises in customer relations management (CRM) tools, has recently pivoted to reap the benefits of generative AI, which has now been baked into most of its products, the UK head claimed.
“As an important global tech hub entering a new, fast-moving innovation cycle led by generative AI, the UK has a golden opportunity to unlock long-lasting value for the economy and grow its status as a technology leader,” Bahrololoumi said of the investment.
While the UK CEO wouldn’t be drawn on specifics when TI asked her how the money would spend, she added that when she thought about the firm’s people, infrastructure, buildings, education, reskilling and customer success goals, “we won’t have any trouble spending it”.
She added: “With this new innovation cycle I’m pretty sure we’re going to burn through that quickly.”
The cash injection follows a previous $2.5bn sum that was given to the UK division in 2018 over a five-year period.
Ever keen to promote Britain as a global player in the tech industry and a leader on AI safety – the UK Prime Minster Rishi Sunak also chimed in on the announcement, releasing a statement claiming the money was “a ringing endorsement of our economy.”
He added: “It will strengthen the company’s UK presence, increasing capacity, as well as creating vital jobs, reinforcing our position as one of their largest markets outside of the U.S.
“This investment sits alongside my key priority to grow the economy and pledge to make the UK the best place in the world to start, grow and invest in tech businesses.”
Approximately 14,000 attendees gathered in the Excel centre in East London to find out how Salesforce as added AI into every app and every layer of its CRM platform.
New products included the generative AI workflow tools for its Sales Cloud and Service Cloud products. The new features, Sales GPT and Service GPT, are designed to simplify workflow and customer engagement for sales and service teams.
Salesforce claimed that the tools would enable teams to accelerate deal closures, anticipate customer needs and enhance productivity.
Bahrololoumi reminded delegates that the firm was “no stranger to AI” and first introduced predictive AI into its CRM tools in 2014 with the launch of Salesforce Einstein – which, the CEO added, now drives over 1trillion predictions per week for its customers.
Einstein GPT is now set to power the new services from the backend, operating within an open ecosystem using proprietary real-time data.
Patrick Stokes, Salesforce’s EVP for product and industries marketing, added that to address enterprise data security and compliance, the Einstein GPT’s trust layer will protect sensitive customer data, preventing the large language models from retaining it.
Enterprise use cases
Well known British brands such as Aston Martin, Heathrow Airport, M&S and John Lewis also demonstrated ways in which they were using Salesforce at the event.
At Heathrow, for instance, Service Cloud is deployed at the airport by its service teams where Einstein chatbots deal, on average with 4,000 queries each month.
Ben Hull, service cloud manager at John Lewis, revealed that adding Salesforce’s chatbots to its CX armoury has reduced agent interactions dramatically – but not customer satisfaction with 98% of customers still leaving 5/5 reviews for the retailer.
Powered by Service Cloud, the Einstein bots provide answers for JL’s website users and those who write in from WhatsApp.
A virtual remote assistant feature also provides video communication between customers and agents to resolve matters such the return of damaged goods, to help the agent determine a more appropriate outcome.
Hull added that this year the firm was looking at the ways it could use GPT capabilities to further the store’s efficiencies.
“Our business is built on human connections, but we must embrace new technologies like GPT, and we’d like to see how we can further use AI to generate loyalty.
“We also have a million digital conversations a year – that seems like a great AI opportunity so we are looking to see if we can increase those channels further.
“We are also thinking about our [customer] data such as who they are and recent order history etc and bring that together so that what you’ll end up with is a more personal conversation between you and one of our team which has been super charged by AI in the background so that you know what your preferred brands are.”
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