UPDATED 08:00 EST / JUNE 09 2021

CLOUD

Salesforce debuts new AI features to boost its vertical-specific clouds

Salesforce.com Inc. is enhancing its lineup of industry-specific cloud platforms with new capabilities aimed at companies in the financial services, healthcare and consumer goods sectors.

The company says that its vertical-specific cloud platforms represent a $2 billion business. The new capabilities, which Salesforce announced today during a virtual event, should give that business a boost in a time when rivals are similarly building out more features for specific industries. 

Salesforce, best known for its customer relationship management platform, also provides several other cloud platforms that help enterprises with tasks such as marketing and customer support. The company offers vertical-specific versions of those products with additional features tailored to different industries. Salesforce has a total of 12 vertical-specific cloud platforms.

The first of the new capabilities detailed today is an artificial intelligence tool called Einstein Relationship Insights. It’s rolling out to Financial Services Cloud, Salesforce’s platform for the financial sector. The tool promises to help financial firms win more deals by providing their salespeople with contextual information, such as details on whether a company recently appointed new board members, that potentially can be useful in deal-making efforts. 

Financial sector salespeople usually consult information from several different sources when negotiating with potential clients. To simplify the task, Salesforce is making it easier to access information from different sources in its platform. The company says that the Financial Services Cloud interface can now display both client details from a financial firm’s internal records and external data, such as S&P credit ratings if the client is a publicly traded firm.

The third major theme of the Financial Services Cloud update is easing regulatory compliance. At the Industries Summit today, Salesforce detailed a set of new features for ensuring that sensitive information belonging to a financial firm’s clients doesn’t end up somewhere it’s not supposed to. For  example, if a bank’s mergers unit is helping a publicly traded company buy a rival, the platform can ensure that the record for the deal isn’t viewable by employees who focus on trading stocks.

Salesforce is positioning the new features as a way for financial firms to make employees more productive. “Bankers can spend their time as trusted advisers for their clients by accelerating deal pipelines and better managing sensitive information,” said Jujhar Singh, executive vice president and general manager of Salesforce’s Salesforce Industries business, which oversees its industry-specific cloud platforms.

The Einstein Relationship Insights tool included in the update to Financial Services Cloud is one of two AI features Salesforce debuted today. The other is rolling out for the company’s Health Cloud platform, which targets the healthcare sector. The platform is receiving an AI-powered scheduling tool that suggests the best times for patient visits and helps medical professionals send out pre-visit questionnaires.

The third platform for which Salesforce announced upgrades is its Consumer Goods Cloud. The company is adding a capability that will enable companies to verify that products are displayed correctly on store shelves and have been ordered in sufficient volumes to meet demand.   

Salesforce’s push to expand its vertical-specific capabilities is part of a broader industry trend that has also seen other major cloud providers more heavily prioritize specialized features as part of their product roadmaps.  

Those other players include Microsoft Corp., which competes with Salesforce in the CRM market. Microsoft offers several vertical-specific product bundles that combine features from Microsoft 365, Azure and other products with vertical-specific capabilities such as tools for complying with banking regulations. Amazon Web Services Inc. and Google LLC, in turn, have over recent quarters both expanded the number of vertical-specific services available via their respective public clouds.

Such specialized features enhance cloud platform operators’ value propositions because they save resources for customers. The newly announced Salesforce tool that helps check products on store shelves, for example, spares retailers the expense of building such a capability from scratch. That lowers not only costs but also time, since custom enterprise software often takes months or years to develop. 

Photo: Salesforce

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