Why IBM and Peers Are Integrating Offerings
Acquisition spree likely to continue in 2017
Earlier in this series, we discussed how AI’s (artificial intelligence) integration with CRM (customer relationship management) would open a plethora of growth opportunities, which explains IBM’s increased focus on CRM, analytics, and the AI space.
IBM is not the only player with its eyes on the AI and CRM space. 2016 saw Alphabet (GOOG), IBM, Oracle (ORCL), Yahoo, Intel (INTC), Apple (AAPL), and Salesforce compete with each other in the acquisition of AI companies. Alphabet emerged as the winner, with 11 acquisitions in the AI space in 2016.
Considering AI and ML (machine learning) are expected to drive the $2 trillion in spending expected during the next computing cycle, this spree is likely to continue in 2017. Salesforce and Microsoft are also very active in harnessing benefits from the integration of AI and CRM.
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Integrating offerings to gain insights into data
Salesforce (CRM), a leader in the CRM space, launched Salesforce Einstein in 2016. It claims that Salesforce Einstein is “the world’s first comprehensive artificial intelligence platform for CRM.” Salesforce Einstein has brought AI capabilities such as ML, deep learning, and natural language processing to sales, service, and marketing. It enables customers to build AI-powered apps.
Salesforce Einstein is the result of companies’ various acquisitions in the AI/ML (machine learning) space. MetaMind and PredictionIO were two acquisitions Salesforce announced in the AI space.
Currently, there are 17 available Einstein features across Salesforce’s five clouds—Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing and Analytics Cloud, Community Cloud, and Commerce Cloud. Salesforce’s ambition to be on top in the cloud space indicates that soon we will see new Einstein features for every Salesforce Cloud.
Microsoft’s (MSFT) Dynamics 365 also boasts of various AI features that integrate with ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM, and supply chains. Microsoft’s strategic acquisition of LinkedIn is opportune as it now has access to large data sets, which are essential to the development of AI. In the past, we shared that Morgan Stanley (MS) views data as the “holy grail of AI.” Moreover, analytics engines can analyze Microsoft, LinkedIn, CRM, and ERP, and provide marketing insight and sales leads.