As Einstein expands its reach, Salesforce focuses on 'ethical and humane' technology
- In Q4 2018, ending Janurary 31, Salesforce reported that its Einstein platform made more than 1 billion predictions a day. For the second quarter running, the company has improved this output by 1 billion, bringing Einstein to approximately 3 billion daily predictions for customers, CEO Mark Benioff said on an earnings call Wednesday.
- But with such rapid advances in AI and other core technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution comes the burden of social responsibility, Benioff said. Salesforce has hired leadership for a new office on the "ethical and humane use of technology" within the company and in industry at large.
- Despite revenue beating expectations and growing 27% year-over-year to $3.28 billion in Q2, company stock dropped by around 5% as the company's third quarter guidance fell below expectations. The effects of the Q1 acquisition of integration software company MuleSoft, which had its first full quarter under Salesforce in Q2, had big impacts on the company's positive quarter performance, bringing in $122 million in revenue, according to executives on the call.
Salesforce has maintained its position at the head of the CRM market for years, and AI is as ubiquitous to its strategy today as cloud was when Salesforce started. The company open-sourced the AutoML library for structured data behind Einstein earlier this month in keeping with its commitment to the larger AI and open-source community.
The push for accountability in the application of advanced technologies comes on the heels of a petition for the company to drop its contract with Customs and Border Protection following a scandal on the mistreatment of children.
While Benioff opted to continue with the contract despite an open letter from hundreds of employees, the office for ethical and humane technology use is an acknowledgement of growing calls for social accountability by large technology companies and the need to establish industry guidelines and frameworks.
Stakeholders expect more accountability and transparency in business values today, according to Mark Weinberger, speaking at an Axios event in D.C. earlier this month. Taking a stand involves risk, but CEOs taking positions on matters they have expertise in can bring value and substance to discussions, he said.
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