Dreamforce: Einstein's new friend Siri was biggest winner at Salesforce conference

It's officially known as Dreamforce, but in reality, it turned into Voiceforce, with Siri being the big beneficiary.
Written by Brent Leary, Contributor

My tenth Dreamforce is over, and I wanted to share a few early impressions before I hop on the plane to go home. My first thought is that, it might have been Dreamforce No. 10 for me, but I will personally remember it as my first Voiceforce. It will also be remembered for meeting Steve Kerr, but that's for another time. I called it Voiceforce because -- with all due respect to Customer 360 and all the other big announcements coming out of the week -- the thing that got most of the juice was Einstein Voice. And because of that, one of the biggest beneficiaries from the event had to be Siri. And, let's face it, Siri needed some love after the last Apple event.

Also: Salesforce, Apple forge iOS mobile app development partnership

The partnership announced by Salesforce and Apple will see Salesforce redesign its mobile app to give customers "rich experiences exclusively on iOS, with unique Apple capabilities such as Siri Shortcuts, Face ID, Business Chat." And, while Siri was barely mentioned during Apple's recent event, it was demoed several times at during the main keynote and other product keynotes. The "daily briefing" you can ask Siri for to get a quick overview of what's happening with accounts, contacts, deals, and other Salesforce-related information drew a lot of attention. And considering there were 170,000 people physically present in addition to the 10 million other folks live-streaming the event, that's a lot of attention that Siri desperately needed.

Einstein Voice Bringing Voice First to the Smartphone

I've referenced Adobe's State of Voice Assistants report, released earlier this month, a few times because there is good information in it. And one of the key takeaways for me was just how little smartphones are driving voice-first adoption compared to smart speakers. The study found 76 percent of smart speaker owners increased usage of voice assistants in the last year, compared to 38 percent for non-owners (e.g., smartphones, wearables, laptops, connected car). Additionally, 72 percent of smart speaker owners are comfortable using voice in front of others (up significantly from 64 percent from last December), versus only 29 percent for non-owners.

Also: Salesforce launches Customer 360, aims to integrate all your data, applications

These numbers point to the lack of impact Siri has had so far on moving voice-first forward, since smartphones are far behind smart speakers in building enthusiasm for it, which is ironic since Apple is primarily responsible for generating our collective passion for mobile devices. And while that passion, which started from a consumer standpoint, eventually transitioned into the corporate world, consumers never really warmed up to using Siri, which possibly could explain why smart speakers are driving interest in voice assistants instead of smartphones. But Einstein Voice -- with its ability to let Salesforce users create notes with their voices that are automatically entered into the system to create new or updated records (accounts, contacts, leads, deals, etc.,) -- can be the spark that voice-first needs from a smartphone perspective. Whereas consumers are driving voice-first usage through their smart speakers, maybe it falls to business users to spark voice-first adoption on smartphones with the help of conversational CRM.

CRM User Adoption Also A Potential Winner

I don't think it was by accident that many of the Einstein Voice demos centered around scenarios familiar to sales professionals. It's no secret that sales folks, for the most part, hate CRM. And most of their hate centers on not wanting to be sitting in front of a computer doing data entry, data maintenance, and searching for data. Because all those tasks are time consuming and don't really have anything directly to do with the direct reason for their job -- to build mutually beneficial relationships with customers and prospects. In fact those tasks take away from the time needed to cultivate profitable, long lasting business relationships. But, according to a survey project I did last year with Introhive, 500 sales-oriented CRM users identified the following ways CRM would be more appealing for them to use, including:

  • Automated data entry (58 percent)
  • Automated insight discovery (49 percent)
  • Automated insight formatting to speed up communication with customers (46 percent)

With one of Einstein Voice's highlighted use cases centering on making it easier for people to use CRM without having to type nearly as much, the chance for increasing adoption will drive initial interest in it. That solves a major challenge still dogging CRM usage, but it also should have the effect of increasing the quantity and quality of data that goes into the system. Easier entry means more data, which in turn should improve the accuracy of predictions coming from Einstein.

Also: Salesforce, AWS plot more private connections, integration points

So, the big early takeaways were:

  • Einstein Voice stole the show.
  • Focusing on a traditional pain point like user adoption will be the primary driver in Einstein Voice adoption.
  • The potential impact of having more data into Salesforce due to higher adoption improves AI predictions.
  • Even a percentage of the millions of Salesforce users across 150,000 corporate customers could increase the adoption levels of voice-first on smartphones in general, but with the Apple partnership Siri gets a big assist from Einstein Voice.

Also: FinancialForce pumps Einstein Analytics into latest platform update

Hats off to Salesforce for pulling off another successful Dreamforce, and for kicking off the first successful Voiceforce.

I have another article, coming in a week or two. that gets into more detail on the underpinnings of Einstein Voice and how it's being developed around the Apple partnership.

Previous and related coverage:

With Einstein Voice, conversational CRM is about to go mainstream

With Dreamforce around the corner, Salesforce jumps into the voice assistants race with Einstein Voice.

Siri, Apple is just not that into you

Apple put on its big event heralding the newest iPhones and Apple Watch Series 4, but in nearly two hours of product updates, Siri was only mentioned once for eight seconds.

Why mobile phones aren't voice-first like smart speakers

Hear more about how smart speaker and smart assistant adoption is seeping into more of the customer journey.

Alexa's land-and-expand strategy is racking up the numbers

While Google is outselling Amazon in global units of smart speakers, other numbers show Amazon is doing just fine in expanding Alexa's reach and usage

The Alexa-Cortana integration: Why wasn't this bigger news?

The long awaited integration between Alexa and Cortana came last week. And while many don't view Cortana as a major player in the voice assistant space, the potential is definitely there, even it it didn't fully materialize with the news.

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