Salesforce: How the “Customer Company” leverages data and AI

Colin Fleming
Executive Vice President, Global Brand Marketing Salesforce

Cloud-based software company Salesforce spent 2023 focusing on what has long stood at the core of its business: the customer. Following a rebrand earlier this year as the “Customer Company,” Salesforce has implemented a combination of initiatives that highlight its commitment to AI, trust and life-long values while maintaining its focus on what makes the business thrive. 

“We focus on one thing–the simple, most important thing in any business, and that’s the word customer,” Salesforce Executive Vice President, Global​ Brand​ Marketing Colin Fleming said. 

As generative AI shifts the foundation of business and leaves companies rapidly integrating the new tech, some customers are asking how this impacts them and their data. Salesforce is combatting privacy concerns with a back to basics approach to the future, putting security and values at the center of the business while integrating cutting-edge tech. 

“These values are not just written as a plaque on the wall, they are truly operationalized into the company,” Fleming said. 

As part of this approach, Salesforce has introduced the Einstein Trust Layer, a groundbreaking feature that ensures AI interactions without compromising customer data. This new feature, along with the Einstein 1 Platform, were introduced at Dreamforce 2023 and promote trust, bias management and toxicity management. Dreamforce, a 20-year-old event with mass industry recognition, has recently undergone a significant pivot and is now heralded as the largest AI event of the year with the inaugural release of Time 100 AI, over 75 AI thought leaders and 50,000 attendees at the conference. Much of what was discussed at Dreamforce centered around thoughtful AI integration and security, emphasizing the importance of such measures when a company decides to make the leap into the AI ecosystem. 

“The general concerns around AI are just as true on the business side,” Fleming said. “It just happens to have higher stakes.” 

While rapidly advancing in its AI capabilities, Salesforce also recognizes the importance of trust. Partnerships with Google, Open AI, Amazon, ​Click here to enter text.​and other traditional competitors as well as leveraging its existing engineering power have allowed Salesforce to focus its efforts on two main targets: solving the trust concerns of customers and strongly putting ethics at the heart of its AI tools through the creation of the Office of Ethical and Humane Use. To implement even further trust into its approach, Salesforce has committed to the White House’s AI safety pledge, a set of voluntary standards protecting businesses and consumers alike from the risks posed by AI. 

“We don’t think there needs to be a trade-off between leading-edge innovation and trust, Fleming said. 

In addition to its partnerships, Salesforce also has a number of its own campaigns emphasizing its secure approach to AI integration. The Ask More of AI campaign centers on Salesforce’s unique customer support approach, addressing widespread concerns surrounding generative AI. This collaboration with Matthew McConaughey revolves around asking the right questions to AI, crafting the technology to eliminate privacy concerns and making AI’s integration into business an accessible reality. Additionally, the launch of Salesforce’s Idea Exchange connects consumers directly with the company in a way that allows for co-creation that fits their needs. 

This connection between customer dedication and trust sits at the core of Salesforce’s values. 

“Our second value outside of trust is customer success,” Fleming said. “It is a foundational principle in Salesforce’s journey toward customer centricity.” 

Salesforce’s commitment to customer centricity and responsible AI integration has greatly benefitted from an ongoing growth in data, with Fleming stating the brand is “one of the largest, if not the largest, databases in the world.” This sheer scale of data has allowed Salesforce to address AI challenges with speed and quality alike. Its data cloud offering powers artificial intelligence with the correct information at speed, reducing entry barriers and friction to enhance the customer experience. According to Fleming, Salesforce’s recent campaign with Gen AI and cable diffusion has facilitated rapid idea iteration and brought it to market faster than ever before, cutting the average time to campaign launch by two-thirds. 

“The AI revolution is really a data revolution,” Fleming said. 

While the case for investing in new tech has been more straightforward, building a compelling case for investment in the Salesforce brand has been multifaceted, intertwining the company’s values and vision. Fleming credited Salesforce’s leadership as a major proponent of the brand, sharing that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s commitment has created “Marketing with a “C.” 

With earned trust from leadership and employees alike, Salesforce continues to invest in the brand and build the ethos of great customer service, proving that brand and demand must be complementary rather than adversaries. Salesforce envisions a B2B brand renaissance and ​remains​​Click here to enter text.​ optimistic about the power of values and brand alike. 

“I hope that companies that do it right will be the ones that win the day,” Fleming said. 

As Salesforce moves into the future of data and tech, it continues to keep its values close and its customers at the center of the business. 

“We’re at the bleeding edge of data and AI and CRM and trust in these things,” Fleming said, “but at its core, it’s all in service to the customer.” 

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