Salesforce Chief Product Officer: Only 15% Of Companies Prepared For Fourth Industrial Revolution
In the beginning was steam. Then electricity, and most recently computing. But the fourth industrial revolution, Salesforce chief product officer Bret Taylor says, is characterized by the rise of intelligence.
And only 15% of companies are ready for the shift.
"We're currently in the fourth industrial revolution," Taylor said this week at Salesforce Connections, a company conference in Chicago. "But it’s not about bits and bytes ... behind every one of our connected devices is a customer."
Salesforce made its bones as a cloud-based customer relationship management provider almost 20 years ago. Now, however, it's expanded far beyond CRM and offers a full suite of tools to manage your business with its sales cloud, marketing cloud, and service cloud, plus a host of other tools for commerce, communities, and collaboration.
One of the tools that it's bringing to the marketing cloud fight is AI, in the form of Salesforce's Einstein.
But its biggest play, and the one that has driven its marketing cloud to a leadership position in the past few years -- three years ago, Adobe was in the lead -- is Salesforce's deep integration between all of its sales, marketing, and other other toolsets.
And that's part of the fourth industrial revolution too, according to Taylor:
"Seamless integrated experiences across all customer touchpoints ... that’s what it means to drive the fourth industrial revolution," he said. "The power of integration is creating a single view of your customer ... you can unlock all of the data in your company to expose that single view of your customers."
The fourth industrial revolution might be more about a fusion of technologies in computing, nanotech, biotech, and AI, but Taylor has a point: few companies have achieved a simple but complete view of their customers.
That's problematic, and that leads to ads that don't resonate, emails that duplicate, and customer contact points like web, email, and phone that don't integrate.
Add it up, and you've got a crappy customer experience, and therein lies the magic of Salesforce's evolution.
With tools for virtually all aspects of how a brand wants to listen, engage, market and sell to, and serve a customer, it's tough for competitors to argue that a marketing solution which doesn't have access to data throughout the ownership phase of a product can adequately serve brands and manufacturers. That said, Salesforce doesn't really have access to the datastream that might soon be the most critical way for brands and customers to connect.
Right now, that datastream is mobile, Taylor said, citing the example of the Marriot hotel he was staying at: his phone is the room key, and he could order a toothbrush via the app.
"Mobile connecting customers is greatest opportunity brands have ever had to connect with customers," Taylor said.
That's true retrospectively, and will remain true in many cases going forward - and Salesforce offers technology that brands can use to integrate data from mobile apps into their customer databases - but it's not true in every case.
Modern smart products -- examples of what I call smart matter -- are in continuous contact with the companies that manufacture them. Google knows when it's cold in my home. Apple knows when I go for a run. Sonos knows when I'm playing romantic music, and Amazon knows when my basic math skills fail me.
Each of them has sold millions of us smart products which are in almost constant contact with their respective home bases. Google's Nest, Apple's Watch, Sonos' smart music system, and Amazon's Echo have established a deeper relationship between me and their corporate masters than most mobile apps can hope to replicate. They are all examples of ambient computing ... intelligence which is built into the fabric of our homes and offices and is, by degrees, getting more and more invisible, more and more implicit in our environments.
Mobile apps are the three-foot devices ... never more than three feet from our bodies.
Ambient computing devices are in the process of dissolving into every space we inhabit. They essentially live in the cloud, and so can be more and more omnipresent as their physical avatars shrink.
That's one datastream that marketing cloud vendors like Salesforce have difficulty tapping. And it's one way that brands with technological chops can get even closer to us, their customers. In some cases, perhaps too close.
But Salesforce is working on accessing IoT data, and does have some working implementations, Taylor mentioned, citing a connected pop dispenser that notifies its owners when it's running low on soda. Other examples that Salesforce mentions include a local car dealership triggering sales campaigns when a smart, connected car reaches a certain mileage.
The tighter integrations with more personal, consumer-oriented ambient computing devices, however?
Those will be tougher nuts to crack.