When my colleague Jason Guthrie last wrote about the introduction of Salesforce Lightning a year ago, he described it as the most significant update to the Salesforce user interface (UI) in the company’s history. For the uninitiated, Salesforce Lightning is the next-gen platform established to replace Salesforce Classic. Lightning has been introduced to deliver a more visual, responsive and intuitive customer relationship management (CRM) UI, and one which will take employee experience and customer engagement to the next level.

The Lightning includes; Lightning Experience, a set of modern user interfaces (UIs) notably for the Salesforce1 Mobile app and template-based communities, Lightning Component Framework,  a JavaScript  for customisation of the Lightning Experience, Visual Building Tools, which enable  drag-and-drop app-building and customisation, and an app store for partners’ Lightning components

At launch, Lightning could not replicate everything that Classic could do. So there was a chance that certain apps and capabilities users had become accustomed to on Classic might not have been available on Lightning.

Whilst this should still be a consideration, there is a new element to the equation: ‘Einstein’, the innovative Artificial Intelligence capabilities now offered by Salesforce. Forward-thinking businesses looking for a competitive edge are evaluating, if not already deploying, AI technologies to provide Augmented Intelligence for their teams. To evaluate or deploy AI in the Salesforce world it is essential to switch to the Lightning platform in order to use Einstein’s advanced capabilities.

Einstein allows users to leverage analysis of structured customer data to:

  • Intelligently predict likely outcomes of customer journeys
  • Inform staff decision-making and generate recommendations for next best action
  • Automatically score and prioritise sales leads, and send notifications and alerts

In other words, Einstein provides businesses with next-level insights from their CRM data, and helps marketers and sales teams to ‘augment’ their own knowledge with actionable business intelligence. The only way to gain access to such an obvious business advantage is to transition from Classic to Lightning. Those who have already made the leap are now one step ahead of their customers, positioned to satisfy customers by making timely recommendations, putting them in position to overtake their competitors.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Gaining tactical guidance from Einstein is not the only AI option that is available” hashtags=”AI, Data”]

However, gaining tactical guidance from Einstein is not the only AI option that is available. Earlier this year, Salesforce entered into a partnership agreement with IBM to combine Salesforce’s Einstein capabilities with IBM Watson, Big Blue’s AI, famous in the UK for its presence at Wimbledon’s annual tennis tournament and across the Atlantic for challenging human players at Jeopardy. Watson excels at making sense of unstructured data that isn’t necessarily within a business’ CRM database–drawing insights from text, video, images, emails, customer surveys, and social media, to name a few. Together, Einstein and Watson can ‘marry up’ structured and unstructured data, allowing users to provide their customers with more tailored, thoughtful and predictive experiences than ever thought possible. The two AI solutions combined create a holistic AI solution with unparalleled capability.

Take the insurance industry for example. Combining Einstein and Watson, an insurance company using Lightning can now pull local forecast data from IBM Weather into Salesforce, and automatically send safety and policy information to customers who are at risk of being impacted by severe weather events.  So if a hailstorm is on its way, customers in the danger area will automatically receive a text message, email or automated call from their insurance company telling them to park their car under cover before the storm hits. The insurance company then saves a claim, the customer saves their car.

Together, Watson and Einstein offer an insights engine for every industry. With this in mind, it’s time for those still using Classic to ask themselves whether their business can now afford to do without Lightning and miss out on having the option to tap the combined power of Einstein and Watson. Choosing to implement Lightning may cause some transitional disruption, but the long-term benefits quickly outweigh that. Is it worth risking falling behind industry peers for the sake of short-term consistency?

At Bluewolf, we find it unsurprising that we are completing more Classic to Lightning migrations than ever before. A growing number of businesses are realising that, to maintain a business advantage over their industry rivals, the time to invest in truly intelligent business systems is now.

We’ve recently completed Lightning projects for the likes of T-Mobile, Politico, and Australian Associated Press. And we’re leading by example. After many years of running our entire business on a customised Salesforce platform, Bluewolf made the transition to Salesforce Lightning. In less than four months, we went from prototype to launch, improving the user experience and efficiency of our team.

Our Sales team no longer needs to navigate across multiple locations to access the information they need. They have fast, easy and integrated access to the information and insights, can collaborate seamlessly, and focus on prospects–not process–to drive the best customer experience. Whether they are using a desktop or a mobile device, Bluewolf sales reps are empowered with key, customised information in one central place.

Ultimately, the shopping list of technology that a business needs to scale should, and does differ from company to company.  But if you use Salesforce it is crucial to take the time to understand when the most appropriate time for Lightning could arrive and implement accordingly. If there is something that’s certain though, it’s that Lightning is the future of Salesforce CRM, and it holds the key to making the most of AI.