Annual report finds early adopter confidence in Artificial Intelligence drives superior customer experiences and business impact
Global consulting agency Bluewolf, an IBM Company, has released its sixth-annual The State of Salesforce report that uncovers insights and emerging trends from Sales, Service, Marketing and IT professionals who use Salesforce, the world’s #1 CRM platform. Based on insights from more than 1,800 Salesforce customers worldwide, the report found that companies are encouraged by the results of early artificial intelligence (AI) investments: 77 percent of companies already using AI expect to increase their investment over the next 12 months, and 38 percent of Salesforce customers expect to invest in AI within the next year. Bluewolf’s report explores how some of the best companies are committed to ongoing innovation with Salesforce.
Bluewolf defines the “best” as companies that are embracing the increasing necessity for smarter, faster decision-making and are embedding AI capabilities into Salesforce across their entire organization.
Continued AI investment drives impactful customer experiences
The C-Suite is placing big bets on AI, with 63 percent of C-level executives surveyed counting on AI to improve the customer experience. However, despite the widespread enthusiasm, about half of all businesses aren’t fully prepared to adopt it, but 20 percent of those not currently using it at all say they plan to invest in AI.
59 percent of service professionals expect AI to have the greatest impact on customer experience as the demand for personalized customer service is making it necessary to leverage AI-enhanced self-service capabilities, like Chatbots. Companies are also supercharging their sales funnels through AI, with 59 percent of the C-Suite expecting to invest in AI and AI-enabled platforms in the next 12 months. Additionally, 35 percent of sales organizations investing in AI within the next year expect that it will have the most impact on qualifying leads.
IT becomes central to enabling business innovation
The role of IT has evolved beyond solely managing an organization’s technical infrastructure to align with business stakeholders. Moving beyond just the technical aspects of their organization’s Salesforce Platform, IT can also serve as an internal catalyst for business transformation and strategy.
More than one-third of organizations report that IT is ultimately responsible for their customer success platform and, if IT is responsible for an organization’s use of the Salesforce Platform, it is three times more likely to be optimized for ongoing innovation. Furthermore, 16 percent more employees understand the opportunity for AI to benefit their business if IT is at the helm of their Salesforce org. Almost nine out of 10 (88 percent) IT professionals say the top two reasons their organization uses Salesforce is for customer acquisition and retention.
Don’t ignore the dark data: companies favor insights over intuition through actionable analytics
Over half of sales leaders agree that having a 360-degree view of the customer is the most critical factor in driving sales effectiveness. But less than half of salespeople believe they have that clear view. Today, 90 percent of service professionals don’t analyze dark data, such as customer sentiment or email correspondence. However, analysis of unstructured data has become too important to ignore and companies of all sizes are recognizing the need for advanced analytics. 71 percent of Salesforce customers surveyed are increasing their investment in actionable analytics in the next year.
Three-quarters of marketers use Salesforce to predict and automate potential blind spots and 62 percent use Salesforce to anticipate customers’ next action. As customers expect a seamless brand experience and move between physical and digital channels, it is now critical to use the right insights at the right time to become more predictive in nature. The best companies realize that their unique data is their greatest competitive advantage to delivering the experiences customers expect in real time.
“The pressure to deliver experiences that customers demand requires technology that unlocks the value of data, enables employees to make smarter decisions, faster, and grows with the business,” said Eric Berridge, CEO, Bluewolf. “Artificial intelligence is the vehicle that can allow businesses to use data at scale to connect more deeply than ever before. This year’s The State of Salesforce report shows that those already investing in advanced technologies are reaping its early rewards and bringing real business outcomes – now.”