By Julie Bort
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce
Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff isn’t just predicting that artificial intelligence will one day help run everyone’s companies, he’s already using it at Salesforce today.
He’s got a special, not-yet-released version of Einstein, the company’s artificial intelligence tech baked into its products, helping him run his company, he told Wall Street analysts on Thursday during the company’s quarterly conference call.
He invites this version of Einstein, called Einstein Guidance, to his Monday morning staff meeting, where up to 30 top executives update him on their progress for the quarter. Einstein Guidance is designed to do forecasting and modeling.
It’s especially useful to make sure that managers aren’t trying to snow him.
He said (emphasis ours):
“Like in a lot of our technologies, we really become the first and fastest-moving user. We even have a piece of Einstein that we’ve not yet rolled out to our customers called Einstein Guidance.
“This is a capability that I use with my staff meeting, when I do my forecast and I do my analysis of the quarter, which happens every Monday at my staff meeting …
“We have our top 20 or 30 executives around the table. We talk about different regions, different products, different opportunities. And then I ask one other executive their opinion … and that executive is Einstein.
“And I will literally turn to Einstein and say, ‘You’ve heard all of this, what do you think?’ And Einstein will give me the over and under on the quarter and show me where we are strong and where we are weak and sometimes it will point out a specific executive, which it’s done in the last three quarters, and said, this executive is someone who needs specific attention during the quarter …
“I have the ability to talk to Einstein and ask everything from product areas I should be focusing on, geographies I should be focusing on, linearity of bookings during the quarter. Every question I could possibly have, I’m able to ask Einstein.
“And for a CEO, typically the way it works, is you have various people, mostly politicians and bureaucrats at your staff meeting who are telling you what they want to tell you to get you to believe what they want you to believe. Einstein comes with no bias. It’s just based on the data.
“To have Einstein’s guidance has transformed me as a CEO.”
Now, while it sounds like Einstein is listening and processing a verbal discussion, that’s not clear and somewhat unlikely. Einstein is designed to create its models and suggestions off of the data stored in Salesforce apps. However, in March, Salesforce and IBM announced a deal that will integrate Einstein with IBM’s Watson. Watson is a form of AI that geared to work with unstructured information and specifically with language.