As Salesforce And IBM Watson Team On AI, Visual Search Comes Into Focus

The use of AI in marketing is still in its infancy, but one of the things Salesforce hopes to tackle first: analyzing the 1.2 trillion digital images that will be taken in 2017.

The possibilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning sometimes raises as much doubt as it does hope among marketers anxiously seeking to employ greater uses of Big Data to personalize messaging and anticipate consumers’ shopping patterns.

Salesforce and IBM, which have each been staking out an aggressive path on AI for marketing over the past year year. But the demands are such that the two companies have decided its better not to completely go at alone, so they’ve teamed up to accelerate the machine learning process.

Best of Both AI Worlds

The global alliance calls for bringing new insights from IBM Watson directly into the Salesforce Einstein and its wider CRM platform. Watson’s structured and unstructured data are already used across several sources and industries including weather, healthcare, financial services and retail.

Together, Watson and Einstein will ingest, reason over and derive recommendations to accelerate decision making and drive greater customer success, the companies say.

“Within a few years, every major decision—personal or business—will be made with the help of AI and cognitive technologies,” said Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and chief executive officer, IBM. “This year we expect Watson will touch one billion people—through everything from oncology and retail to tax preparation and cars. Now, with today’s announcement, the power of Watson will serve the millions of Salesforce and Einstein customers and developers to provide an unprecedented understanding of customers.”

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, Salesforce, added: “The combination of Einstein and Watson will make businesses smarter and our customers more successful. I’m thrilled to form an alliance with IBM—no company’s core values are as close to Salesforce’s as IBM’s. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Salesforce Chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff and IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty.

Picture Perfect SEO

In addition to the alliance between Salesforce and IBM on machine learning, Salesforce also offered some updates to Einstein that will allow its clients to access photos related to their businesses across the web.

Dubbed Einstein Vision, the tool allows brands to bring image recognition to CRM and build AI-powered apps seamlessly embedded into clients apps. Einstein Vision includes: 

  • Visual search provides customers with visual filters to find products that best match their preferences and take photos of your products to discover where they can make purchases in-store or online.
  • Brand detection allows marketers to increase marketing reach, brand integrity and ad campaign ROI by analyzing user-generated images in communities, review boards and social media. Now marketers can build a better understanding of customer preference and lifestyle to improve customer experiences.
  • Product identification streamlines sales and service by giving reps the ability to evaluate product issues before sending technicians into the field, discover which products are out of stock or misplaced and measure shelf-share to optimize product mix and selling potential. 

“More than 1.2 trillion photos will be taken in 2017,” Allison Witherspoon, director of Product Marketing for Salesforce Einstein, told GeoMarketing, citing data from InfoTrends. “And for customers who want their own custom solutions, Einstein Vision allow them to create their own AI models for your own images and your own brand.” 

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.