Back in March of 2017, Salesforce and IBM announced a collaborative partnership that promised to bring new world-class artificial intelligence tools to businesses worldwide. The hope was that IBM's Watson could bring much-needed upgrades to Salesforce's Einstein A.I. platform. Initially, the integration was slow, but this month the two tech giants have announced that they are expanding their partnership.
Although the two companies had already been working together, the latest announcement has some interesting new implications for users of the Salesforce cloud service. In the announcement, the two companies indicated that many of their new efforts will be centered on the Quip document collaboration platform, which Salesforce acquired in August of 2016. They've also hinted at the further development of additional A.I. tools for their shared customer base.
Quip Live Apps
In November Salesforce announced the creation of Live Apps for Quip. The aim was to create extended functionality that could be embedded into documents. For example, users could amend documents to add up-to-date calendars, task lists, and include real-time editing of Salesforce records. All of the functions are supported and automatically updated using the data from the main platform. That kind of functionality is considered to be an evolution of word processing as we have known it. This is also where IBM expects to create some next-generation feature sets.
IBM hopes to take advantage of the Quip API to bring analytics and business intelligence tools straight into documents in the Quip system. This would enable things like statistical readouts gleaned from Salesforce and other external data sources. The goal is to create a kind of "thinking document" that remains relevant to the reader and eliminates the redundant work of manually updating included information prior to dissemination.
There's also work underway that would further the integration of IBM's Watson with the main Salesforce cloud offering. As an example, Autodesk is running a beta of an automated customer service system built on the shared platform that has already reduced the average customer trouble resolution time from one and a half days to an astounding five minutes. As the solution matures, the potential for real efficiency gains is almost limitless. The technology is also of particular interest to solution providers like QPSoftware, who seek to adapt it to create turnkey e-commerce solutions that include fully-autonomous customer service systems.
The combination of Salesforce, Quip, and Watson is also accessible to third-party developers through the API. That means that data from custom-built systems and legacy platforms won't be left behind in the transition to these exciting new tools. It also raises the possibility that businesses will be able to commission purpose-built CRM solutions without having to sacrifice any functionality, and that they will be interoperable across the entire Salesforce ecosystem. As is the case with many cloud platforms, third-party developers may be the catalyst for some of the most innovative and forward-thinking solutions that come to market.
According to the joint announcement, some of the new tools discussed here will start to become available to users of the shared platform later on in the year. Insiders expect some additional announcements and more examples of the latest tools to make their debut at the Dreamforce event this September. Judging by what is known so far, the collaboration between IBM and Salesforce looks to be on the verge of bearing some interesting, and potentially game-changing fruit in the coming year.