(This column originally appeared in Forbes)
Salesforce has taken a big leap forward in solving what is one of the biggest problems facing its CRM customers: bringing together data from multiple sources — both externally and its own products — in such a way that it can be acted on very quickly.
The company just released a new product called Genie and it’s being called“groundbreaking.”
What it does is create a “lake” or repository of data so that a company can bring to in information from anywhere — including Slack, Service Cloud, Finance Cloud, or an outside ERP, e-commerce and point of sale system — and then tag this data in such a way that it can then leverage AI and workflows that can be used pretty much instantly.
For example, a customer is irate and his complaints are entered into a service management system. That data comes into the “lake” and instantly triggers a freeze on any promotional messages that may further irritate the customer. A patient comes into a hospital emergency room and her latest prescriptions, medical orders and history from her doctor and pharmacy are accessible by the attending physician. An inventory item becomes out of stock in an ecommerce platform and messaging gets immediately sent to purchasing, with the prospective customer’s record flagged for follow-up.
No delays. It all happens real time and Genie can enable a company’s CRM system to adapt to new data both as it comes in (transactional) and based on what’s already there. It’s also shared across the company so all team members are on the same page.
“Salesforce Genie stores all this data using a lakehouse architecture,” writes Sanjna Parulekar on the company’s blog. “This makes it easier to categorize and classify the array of unstructured data that businesses rely on — such as medical records — which have historically been messier to deal with.”
Love it. Except it’s not going to be of interest to my CRM clients. Why? Because Genie (like Salesforce) is a product for big companies.
It’s being targeted at banks, insurance companies, healthcare organizations, car makers and giant e-commerce platforms. Genie is great, but just imagine the endless amount of time it will take to not only create these amazing integrations but troubleshoot, upgrade, migrate and further develop and support the platform to deliver accurate results with a high level of reliability. And then imagine the endless amount of time it will require to create all the AI and workflows and automation that will use this information — and adapt to it as the information changes.
Sounds like a pretty big job and I’m betting it will require full time attention by an experienced Salesforce administrator just to accomplish. And — no secret — these people don’t come cheap. None of my clients can afford this. But for a big company a few extra hundred grand could potentially turn into millions of new revenues. So why not go for it?
Salesforce wouldn’t deny this either. They know their market and their market is big corporate implementations. That’s the clear intention of Genie. Even the testimonials on the platform’s launch site includes praises from the likes of the Chief Digital & Marketing Officer of L’Oréal and the Global CMO of Ford. These are not small companies. But it makes sense. Salesforce has to continue to create these kinds of offerings so that they can meet the needs of this market.
But what about smaller companies? They have the same needs too. But they don’t have the same budgets. I’m thinking of one client of mine — a mere 100 employees — that struggles to get their arms around data in their financial, order entry, inventory and CRM systems, which are all separate and a mess. They would absolutely love Genie. But c’mon…they can’t afford Salesforce or Genie or the full time person that would be needed to make all this magic happen. They’re not willing to gamble those hundreds of thousands of dollars so easily. So what do they do? They shrug and they struggle. And they wait for this technology to be available for the masses with less of an investment.
I think someday that will happen. But for now, the groundbreaking Genie will only be enjoyed by those able to truly afford it.