DREAMTECH NEWS

AWS announces SageMaker Clarify to help reduce bias in machine learning models

As companies rely increasingly on machine learning models to run their businesses, it’s imperative to include anti-bias measures to ensure these models are not making false or misleading assumptions. Today at AWS re:Invent, AWS introduced Amazon SageMaker Clarify to help reduce bias in machine learning models.

“We are launching Amazon SageMaker Clarify. And what that does is it allows you to have insight into your data and models throughout your machine learning lifecycle,” Bratin Saha, Amazon VP and general manager of machine learning told TechCrunch.

He says that it is designed to analyze the data for bias before you start data prep, so you can find these kinds of problems before you even start building your model.

“Once I have my training data set, I can [look at things like if I have] an equal number of various classes, like do I have equal numbers of males and females or do I have equal numbers of other kinds of classes, and we have a set of several metrics that you can use for the statistical analysis so you get real insight into easier data set balance,” Saha explained.

After you build your model, you can run SageMaker Clarify again to look for similar factors that might have crept into your model as you built it. “So you start off by doing statistical bias analysis on your data, and then post training you can again do analysis on the model,” he said.

There are multiple types of bias that can enter a model due to the background of the data scientists building the model, the nature of the data and how they data scientists interpret that data through the model they built. While this can be problematic in general it can also lead to racial stereotypes being extended to algorithms. As an example, facial recognition systems have proven quite accurate at identifying white faces, but much less so when it comes to recognizing people of color.

It may be difficult to identify these kinds of biases with software as it often has to do with team makeup and other factors outside the purview of a software analysis tool, but Saha says they are trying to make that software approach as comprehensive as possible.

“If you look at SageMaker Clarify it gives you data bias analysis, it gives you model bias analysis, it gives you model explainability it gives you poor inference explainability it gives you a global explainability,” Saha said.

Saha says that Amazon is aware of the bias problem and that is why it created this tool to help, but he recognizes that this tool alone won’t eliminate all of the bias issues that can crop up in machine learning models, and they offer other ways to help too.

“We are also working with our customers in various ways. So we have documentation, best practices, and we point our customers to how to be able to architect their systems and work with the system so they get the desired results,” he said.

SageMaker Clarify is available starting to day in multiple regions.


By Ron Miller

SAP latest enterprise software giant to offer low code workflow

Low code workflow has become all the rage among enterprise tech giants and SAP joined the group of companies offering simplified workflow creation today when it announced SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management, but it didn’t stop there.

It also announced SAP Ruum, a new departmental workflow tool and SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, its entry into the RPA space. The company made the announcements at SAP TechEd, its annual educational conference that has gone virtual this year due to the pandemic.

Let’s start with the Cloud Platform Workflow Management tool. It enables people with little or no coding skills to build operational workflows. It includes predefined workflows like employee onboarding and can be used in combination with Qualtrics, the company it bought for $8 billion 2018, to include experience data.

As SAP CTO Juergen Mueller told me, the company sees these types of activities in a much larger context. In the hiring example, that means it’s more than simply the act of being hired and getting started. “We like to think in end-to-end processes, and the one fitting into the employee onboarding would be recruit to retire. So it would start at talent acquisition,” he said.

Hiring and employee onboarding is the first part of the larger process, but there are other workflows that develop out of that throughout the employee’s time at the company. “Basically this is a collection of different workflow steps that are happening with some in parallel, some in sequence,” he said.

If there are experience questions involved like which benefits you want, you could add Qualtrics questionnaires to that part of the workflow. It’s designed to be very flexible. As with all of these kinds of tools, you can drag and drop components and do some basic configuration and you’re good to go. In reality, the more complex these become, the more expertise would be required, but this type of tool is designed with non-technical end users in mind as a starting point.

SAP Ruum is a simplified version of Cloud Platform Workflow Management designed for building departmental processes, and if there is an automation element involved where you want to let the machine take care of some mundane, repeatable tasks, then the RPA solution comes into play. The latter tends to be more complex and require more IT involvement, but it enables companies to build automation into workflows where the machine pushes data along through the workflow and does at least some of the work for you.

The company joins Salesforce, which announced Einstein Workflow Automation last week at Dreamforce and Google Workflows, the tool the company introduced in August. There are many others out there from companies large and small including Okta, Slack and Airtable, which all have no-code workflow tools built in.

The SAP TechEd conference has been going on for 24 years, and usually takes place in three separate venues — Barcelona, Las Vegas and Bangalore —  throughout the year. This year, the company is running a single-combined virtual conference for free to all comers. It runs for 48 hours straight starting today with a worldwide audience of over 60,000 sign-ups as of yesterday.


By Ron Miller

SingleStore, formerly MemSQL, raises $80M to integrate and leverage companies’ disparate data silos

While the enterprise world likes to talk about “big data”, that term belies the real state of how data exists for many organizations: the truth of the matter is that it’s often very fragmented, living in different places and on different systems, making the concept of analysing and using it in a single, effective way a huge challenge.

Today, one of the big up-and-coming startups that has built a platform to get around that predicament is announcing a significant round of funding, a sign of the demand for its services and its success so far in executing on that.

SingleStore, which provides a SQL-based platform to help enterprises manage, parse and use data that lives in silos across multiple cloud and on-premise environments — a key piece of work needed to run applications in risk, fraud prevention, customer user experience, real-time reporting and real-time insights, fast dashboards, data warehouse augmentation, modernization for data warehouses and data architectures and faster insights — has picked up $80 million in funding, a Series E round that brings in new strategic investors alongside its existing list of backers.

The round is being led by Insight Partners, with new backers Dell Technologies Capital, Hercules Capital; and previous backers Accel, Anchorage, Glynn Capital, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Rev IV also participating.

Alongside the investment, SingleStore is formally announcing a new partnership with analytics powerhouse SAS. I say “formally” because they two have been working together already and it’s resulted in “tremendous uptake,” CEO Raj Verma said in an interview over email.

Verma added that the round came out of inbound interest, not its own fundraising efforts, and as such, it brings the total amount of cash it has on hand to $140 million. The gives the startup money to play with not only to invest in hiring, R&D and business development, but potentially also M&A, given that the market right now seems to be in a period of consolidation.

Verma said the valuation is a “significant upround” compared to its Series D in 2018 but didn’t disclose the figure. PitchBook notes that at the time it was valued at $270 million post-money.

When I last spoke with the startup in May of this year — when it announced a debt facility of $50 million — it was not called SingleStore; it was MemSQL. The company rebranded at the end of October to the new name, but Verma said that the change was a long time in the planning.

“The name change is one of the first conversations I had when I got here,” he said about when he joined the company in 2019 (he’s been there for about 16 months). “The [former] name didn’t exactly flow off the tongue and we found that it no longer suited us, we found ourselves in a tiny shoebox of an offering, in saying our name is MemSQL we were telling our prospects to think of us as in-memory and SQL. SQL we didn’t have a problem with but we had outgrown in-memory years ago. That was really only 5% of our current revenues.”

He also mentioned the hang up many have with in-memory database implementations: they tend to be expensive. “So this implied high TCO, which couldn’t have been further from the truth,” he said. “Typically we are ⅕-⅛ the cost of what a competitive product would be to implement. We were doing ourselves a disservice with prospects and buyers.”

The company liked the name SingleStore because it is based a conceptual idea of its proprietary technology. “We wanted a name that could be a verb. Down the road we hope that when someone asks large enterprises what they do with their data, they will say that they ‘SingleStore It!’ That is the vision. The north star is that we can do all types of data without workload segmentation,” he said.

That effort is being done at a time when there is more competition than ever before in the space. Others also providing tools to manage and run analytics and other work on big data sets include Amazon, Microsoft, Snowflake, PostgreSQL, MySQL and more.

SingleStore is not disclosing any metrics on its growth at the moment but says it has thousands of enterprise customers. Some of the more recent names it’s disclosed include GE, IEX Cloud, Go Guardian, Palo Alto Networks, EOG Resources, SiriusXM + Pandora, with partners including Infosys, HCL and NextGen.

“As industry after industry reinvents itself using software, there will be accelerating market demand for predictive applications that can only be powered by fast, scalable, cloud-native database systems like SingleStore’s,” said Lonne Jaffe, managing director at Insight Partners, in a statement. “Insight Partners has spent the past 25 years helping transformational software companies rapidly scale-up, and we’re looking forward to working with Raj and his management team as they bring SingleStore’s highly differentiated technology to customers and partners across the world.”

“Across industries, SAS is running some of the most demanding and sophisticated machine learning workloads in the world to help organizations make the best decisions. SAS continues to innovate in AI and advanced analytics, and we partner with companies like SingleStore that share our curiosity about how data and analytics can help organizations reimagine their businesses and change the world,” said Oliver Schabenberger, COO and CTO at SAS, added. “Our engineering teams are integrating SingleStore’s scalable SQL-based database platform with the massively parallel analytics engine SAS Viya. We are excited to work with SingleStore to improve performance, reduce cost, and enable our customers to be at the forefront of analytics and decisioning.”


By Ingrid Lunden

Tecton.ai nabs $35M Series B as it releases machine learning feature store

Tecton.ai, the startup founded by three former Uber engineers who wanted to bring the machine learning feature store idea to the masses, announced a $35 million Series B today, just seven months after announcing their $20 million Series A.

When we spoke to the company in April, it was working with early customers in a beta version of the product, but today, in addition to the funding they are also announcing the general availability of the platform.

As with their Series A, this round has Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital coming back to co-lead the investment. The company has now raised $60 million.

The reason these two firms are so committed to Tecton is the specific problem around machine learning the company is trying to solve. “We help organizations put machine learning into production. That’s the whole goal of our company, helping someone build an operational machine learning application, meaning an application that’s powering their fraud system or something real for them […] and making it easy for them to build and deploy and maintain,” company CEO and co-founder Mike Del Balso explained.

They do this by providing the concept of a feature store, an idea they came up with and which is becoming a machine learning category unto itself. Just last week, AWS announced the Sagemaker Feature store, which the company saw as major validation of their idea.

As Tecton defines it, a feature store is an end-to-end machine learning management system that includes the pipelines to transform the data into what are called feature values, then it stores and manages all of that feature data and finally it serves a consistent set of data.

Del Balso says this works hand-in-hand with the other layers of a machine learning stack. “When you build a machine learning application, you use a machine learning stack that could include a model training system, maybe a model serving system or an MLOps kind of layer that does all the model management, and then you have a feature management layer, a feature store which is us — and so we’re an end-to-end lifecycle for the data pipelines,” he said.

With so much money behind the company it is growing fast, going from 17 employees to 26 since we spoke in April with plans to more than double that number by the end of next year. Del Balso says he and his co-founders are committed to building a diverse and inclusive company, but he acknowledges it’s not easy to do.

“It’s actually something that we have a primary recruiting initiative on. It’s very hard, and it takes a lot of effort, it’s not something that you can just make like a second priority and not take it seriously,” he said. To that end, the company has sponsored and attended diversity hiring conferences and has focused its recruiting efforts on finding a diverse set of candidates, he said.

Unlike a lot of startups we’ve spoken to, Del Balso wants to return to an office setup as soon as it is feasible to do so, seeing it as a way to build more personal connections between employees.


By Ron Miller

Daily Crunch: Slack and Salesforce execs explain their big acquisition

We learn more about Slack’s future, Revolut adds new payment features and DoorDash pushes its IPO range upward. This is your Daily Crunch for December 4, 2020.

The big story: Slack and Salesforce execs explain their big acquisition

After Salesforce announced this week that it’s acquiring Slack for $27.7 billion, Ron Miller spoke to Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Salesforce President and COO Bret Taylor to learn more about the deal.

Butterfield claimed that Slack will remain relatively independent within Salesforce, allowing the team to “do more of what we were already doing.” He also insisted that all the talk about competing with Microsoft Teams is “overblown.”

“The challenge for us was the narrative,” Butterfield said. “They’re just good [at] PR or something that I couldn’t figure out.”

Startups, funding and venture capital

Revolut lets businesses accept online payments — With this move, the company is competing directly with Stripe, Adyen, Braintree and Checkout.com.

Health tech venture firm OTV closes new $170M fund and expands into Asia — This year, the firm led rounds in telehealth platforms TytoCare and Lemonaid Health.

Zephr raises $8M to help news publishers grow subscription revenue — The startup’s customers already include publishers like McClatchy, News Corp Australia, Dennis Publishing and PEI Media.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

DoorDash amps its IPO range ahead of blockbuster IPO — The food delivery unicorn now expects to debut at $90 to $95 per share, up from a previous range of $75 to $85.

Enter new markets and embrace a distributed workforce to grow during a pandemic — Is this the right time to expand overseas?

Three ways the pandemic is transforming tech spending — All companies are digital product companies now.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

WH’s AI EO is BS — Devin Coldewey is not impressed by the White House’s new executive order on artificial intelligence.

China’s internet regulator takes aim at forced data collection — China is a step closer to cracking down on unscrupulous data collection by app developers.

Gift Guide: Games on every platform to get you through the long, COVID winter — It’s a great time to be a gamer.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.


By Anthony Ha

Thoma Bravo acquires Flexera for second time paying $2.85B

Thoma Bravo must really like Flexera, an IT asset management company out of Chicago. The private equity firm bought the company for the second time today. Sources told TechCrunch the price was $2.85 billion.

Technically, Thoma Bravo is getting a majority stake in the company, buying it from previous owners TA Associates and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. The firm originally bought Flexera in 2008 from Macrovision for just $200 million. It turned it around just three years later in 2011 for $1 billion profit, according to reports.

While reports last year had the company’s investors looking for $3 billion, they didn’t quite reach that mark, but it’s still a hefty profit as the company continues to change hands, giving each of its owners a substantial return on investment.

At $2.85 billion, Thoma Bravo will have a bigger challenge on its hands to make that same kind of return, but it sees a company it liked before and it still likes it, especially the management team, which to some degree at least remains intact.

“Jim [Ryan] and his team have positioned Flexera for sustained growth by focusing on the strategic challenges enterprises face with complex IT infrastructures,” Seth Boro, managing partner at Thoma Bravo said in a statement.

Ryan was pleased to see the company’s value continue to rise and to connect once again with Thoma Bravo. “This is a resounding vote of confidence in the growth Flexera has shown and the strategic initiatives we’ve undertaken to address the exponential challenges faced by organizations today,” he said in a statement.

The company was founded in 2008 and has bought 12 companies along the way including five in the last couple of years, according to Crunchbase data. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next subject to regulatory approvals.


By Ron Miller

Everyone has an opinion on the $27.7B Slack acquisition

When the Salesforce-Slack deal was officially announced on Tuesday afternoon, and the number appeared, it was kind of hard to believe. Salesforce had shelled out more than $27 billion to buy Slack and bring it into the Salesforce family of products. The company sees a key missing piece in Slack, and that could explain why it was willing to spend such an astonishing amount of money to get it.

With Slack, Salesforce now has what CEO Marc Benioff called the interface to everything, something he says that the company has thought about for years. In 2010, they tried building it themselves with Chatter, a social tool that never really caught on in a big way. With Slack they finally have it.

“We’ve always had the vision of the social enterprise at Salesforce for more than a decade. Oh, we’ve had Dreamforces entirely dedicated to the vision of what a collaborative interface, a high production interface with applications and an ecosystem would look like wrapped on top of our Customer 360,” Benioff said.

He added that ironically in a building right next door to Salesforce Park you’ll find Slack headquarters. They won’t have to go far to collaborate (or you know, they can just use Slack).

From Chatter to Slack

Neeraj Agrawal, general partner at Battery Ventures says that Benioff has had an interest in enterprise social going back years and this is his way of finally delivering.”Remember Chatter? Benioff was dead on with this trend. He lost Yammer to Microsoft (when Microsoft acquired it for $1.2 billion) about 7-8 years ago, and then launched Chatter. It was a huge bet, but didn’t work. Slack is really Chatter 2.0,” he said.

Chuck Ganapathi, CEO and co-founder at Tact.ai was product lead on the Chatter product at Salesforce in the 2009 timeframe. He wrote in a soon-to-be-published blog post he shared with TechCrunch, that it failed for a lot of reasons, but mostly because at its core, Salesforce was still a bunch of database guys and enterprise social was a very different animal.

“Salesforce is a database-centric company, founded by Oracle ex-pats on a relational DB foundation. Messaging apps must be architected to handle unstructured data, with a big focus on UX, which weren’t core competencies at Salesforce. Sometime after I left, the company seemed to lose interest in improving Chatter, except maybe as a component of other products,” he wrote.

But Benioff never lost interest in the concept of incorporating social into the Salesforce platform. It just took another 10 years or so and bushel of money to make it happen.

A good match or not?

Leyla Seka, a partner at Operator Capital, who formerly ran the AppExchange at Salesforce, sees good things ahead with a combined Slack and Salesforce. “Salesforce and Slack together will offer a powerful duo of applications that will help companies work more effectively together. I think that COVID-19 has shown us how critical it is to get employees the data they need to do their job, but also the community they need to thrive at their job. The marriage of Salesforce and Slack promises to do just that,” Seka told me.

Brent Leary, principal analyst at CRM Essentials was knocked out by the price tag, but says it shows that Salesforce is not afraid to go after what it wants, even if it has to pay a hefty price to get it. “This goes to show Salesforce has absolutely no fear in them when it comes to this deal. They are willing to throw down the big bucks on this acquisition because they see a huge payoff by adding this piece into their platform,” he said.

As for Slack, he sees it as a way for them to take the fast track to the enterprise big leagues. “And for Slack they go from competing with AMOSS (Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce) to joining the one of them, and the company that really made the most sense for them to team up with,” he said.

Laurie McCabe, an analyst and founder at SMB Group agrees with Leary’s take, saying Salesforce doesn’t hesitate when it thinks the value is there. “In this case, Slack gives them a strong collaboration offering that will help them compete more effectively against Microsoft’s growing cloud portfolio, which of course includes CRM and Teams,” she said.

Show me the money

Battery’s Agrawal believes this deal is all about generating revenue, and it was willing to pay a premium to move the needle in billion dollar chunks. The end game he believes is about catching Microsoft, or at the very least getting to $1 trillion (with a T, folks) in market cap.

It’s worth noting that investors are not showing signs, initially at least, of liking this deal with the stock down over 8% today and 16.5% since the rumor of Salesforce’s interest in Slack surfaced last week before the Thanksgiving holiday. That translates into over $18 billion in lost market cap, probably not the reaction that they were hoping for. But Salesforce is big enough that it can afford to play a long game, and reach its financial goals with the help of Slack.

“To get to a market cap of $1 trillion, Salesforce now has to take MSFT head on. Until now, the company has mostly been able to stay in its own swim lane in terms of products. […] To get to a trillion dollars in market cap, Salesforce needs to try to grow in two massive markets,” Agrawal said. Those would be either knowledge worker/desktop (see the 2016 Quip acquisition) or cloud (see the Hyperforce announcement). Agrawal says chances are the company’s best bet is the former, and it was willing to pay top dollar to get it.

“The deal will help Salesforce maintain a 20%+ growth rate over next few years,” he said. Ultimately, he sees it moving the revenue needle, which should eventually drive market cap higher and help achieve those goals.

It’s worth noting that Salesforce president and CEO Bret Taylor said while they intend to integrate Slack deeply into the Salesforce product family, they recognize the power and utility of Slack as a stand-alone product and they don’t intend to do anything that would mess with that.

“Fundamentally, we want to make sure that Slack remains as a kind of technology agnostic platform. We know that Slack is used by millions and millions of people every day to connect every tool under the sun. The most remarkable thing is just how many customers have also just integrated their own custom internal tools as well into this is really kind of the central nervous system for the teams that use it, and we would never want to change that,” he said.

It’s hard to judge a deal this large until we have some hindsight and see how well the two companies have meshed, how well they can incorporate Slack into the Salesforce ecosystem, while allowing that independence Taylor alluded to. If they can find a way to walk that line and Slack becomes that wrapper, that operating system, that glue that holds the Salesforce ecosystem together it will be a good deal, but if Slack stops innovating and withers under the weight of its corporate overlords, then it might not be money well spent.

Time will tell which is the case.


By Ron Miller

With Hyperforce, Salesforce lets you move your data to any public cloud

For much of its existence, Salesforce was a cloud service on its own with its own cloud resources available for its customers, but as the company and cloud computing in general has evolved, Salesforce has moved some of its workloads to other clouds like AWS, Azure and Google. Now, it wants to allow customers to do the same.

To help facilitate that, the company announced Hyperforce today at its Dreamforce customer conference, a new architecture designed from the ground up to help customers deliver workloads to the public cloud of choice.

The idea behind Hyperforce is to enable customers to take all of the data in what Salesforce calls Customer 360 — that’s the company’s detailed view of the customer across channels, Salesforce products and even other systems outside the Salesforce family — and be able to store that in whichever public cloud you want in whatever region you happen to operate. For now, they are in India and Germany, but there are plans to add support for 10 additional countries over the next year.

Company president and CTO Bret Taylor introduced the new approach. “We call this new capability Hyperforce. Simply put, we’ve been working to enable us to deliver Salesforce on public cloud infrastructure all around the world,” Taylor said.

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says the underlying architecture running the Salesforce system is long overdue for an overhaul. At over 20 years old, it’s been around a long time now, but Mueller says that it’s about more than modernizing. “The pandemic requires SaaS vendors to move their offerings from their own data centers to [public cloud] data centers, so they can offer both architectural and commercial elasticity to their customers,” he said.

Mueller added that by bringing Salesforce data into the public cloud, besides the obvious data sovereignty issues it solves, it bring all of the advantages of using public cloud resources.

“Salesforce can now offer both architectural and commercial elasticity to their customers. Commercial elasticity matters a lot to CIOs and CTOs these days because when your business slows down, you pay less, and when your business accelerates, then you can afford to pay more,” he said. He says that Salesforce is bringing an early generation SaaS product and pulling it into the modern age, something that is imperative at this point in the company’s evolution.

But while moving forward, Taylor was careful to point out that they rebuilt the system in such a way as to be fully backwards compatible, so you don’t have to throw out all of the applications and investment you’ve made over the years, something that most companies couldn’t afford to do.”For you developers out there, This is the most remarkable thing. It is 100% backwards compatible, your apps will work with no changes and you can benefit from all of this automatically,” he said.

The company will be rolling out Hyperforce over the next year and beyond as it opens in more regions.


By Ron Miller

Salesforce announces new Service Cloud workforce planning tool

With a pandemic raging across many parts of the world, many companies have customer service agents spread out as well, creating a workforce management nightmare. It wasn’t easy to manage and route requests when CSAs were in one place, it’s even harder with many working from home.

To help answer that problem Salesforce is developing a new product called Service Cloud Workforce Engagement. Bill Patterson, EVP and General Manager for CRM Applications at Salesforce points out that with these workforces spread out, it’s a huge challenge for management to distribute work and keep up with customer volume, especially as customers have moved online during COVID.

“With Service Cloud Workforce Engagement, Salesforce will arm the contact center with a connected solution — all on one platform so our customers can remain resilient and agile no matter what tomorrow may bring,” Patterson said in a statement.

Like many Salesforce products, this one is made up of several key components to deliver a complete solution. For starters, there is Service Forecast for Customer 360, a tool that helps predict workforce requirements and uses AI to distribute customer service requests in a way that makes sense. This can help in planning at a time with a likely predictable uptick in service requests like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or even those times when there is an unexpected spike.

Next up is Omnichannel Capacity Planning, which helps managers distribute CSAs across channels such as phone, messaging or email wherever they are needed most based on the demand across a given channel.

Finally, there is a teaching component that helps coach customer service agents to give the correct answer in the correct way for a given situation. “To increase agent engagement and performance, companies will be able to quickly onboard and continually train agents by delivering bite-size, guided learning paths directly in the agent’s workspace during their shift,” the company explained.

The company says that Service Cloud Workforce Engagement will be available in the first half of next year.


By Ron Miller

Salesforce applies AI to workflow with Einstein Automate

While Salesforce made a big splash yesterday with the announcement that it’s buying Slack for $27.7 billion, it’s not the only thing going on for the CRM giant this week. In fact Dreamforce, the company’s customer extravaganza is also on the docket. While it is virtual this year, there are still product announcements aplenty and today the company announced Einstein Automate, a new AI-fueled set of workflow solutions.

Sarah Franklin, EVP & GM of Platform, Trailhead and AppExchange at Salesforce says that she is seeing companies facing a digital imperative to automate processes as things move ever more quickly online, being driven there even faster by the pandemic. “With Einstein Automate, everyone can change the speed of work and be more productive through intelligent workflow automation,” she said in a statement.

Brent Leary, principal analyst at CRM Essentials says that combined these tools are designed to help customers get to work more quickly. “It’s not only about identifying the insight, it’s about making it easier to leverage it at the the right time. And this should make it easier for users to do it without spending more time and effort,” Leary told TechCrunch.

Einstein is the commercial name given to Salesforce’s artificial intelligence platform that touches every aspect of the company’s product line, bringing automation to many tasks and making it easier to find the most valuable information on customers, which is often buried in an avalanche of data.

Einstein Automate encompasses several products designed to improve workflows inside organizations. For starters, the company has created Flow Orchestrator, a tool that uses a low-code, drag and drop approach for building workflows, but it doesn’t stop there. It also relies on AI to provide help suggest logical next steps to speed up workflow creation.

Salesforce is also bringing Mulesoft, the integration company it bought for $6.5 billion in 2018 into the mix. Instead of processes like a mortgage approval workflow, the Mulesoft piece lets IT build complex integrations between applications across the enterprise, and the Salesforce family of products more easily.

To make it easier to build these workflows, Salesforce is announcing the Einstein Automate collection page available in AppExchange, the company’s application marketplace. The collection includes over 700 pre-built connectors so customers can grab and go as they build these workflows, and finally it’s updating the OmniStudio, their platform for generating customer experiences. As Salesforce describes it, “Included in OmniStudio is a suite of resources and no-code tools, including pre-built guided experiences, templates and more, allowing users to deploy digital-first experiences like licensing and permit applications quickly and with ease. ”

Per usual with Salesforce Dreamforce announcements, the Flow Orchestrator being announced today won’t be available in beta until next summer. The Mulesoft component will be available in early 2021, but the OmniStudio updates and the Einstein connections collection are available today.


By Ron Miller