Press release content from Business Wire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.
CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul 13, 2022--
The race to differentiate the customer experience has many organizations moving to replatform their customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This was the case with Kelly-Moore Paints, a company that made the move from Salesforce to the award-winning AI-driven SugarCRM platform, to fuel innovation and business transformation.
Kelly-Moore Paints is one of the largest employee-owned paint companies in the U.S. and is a manufacturer and retailer of high-quality interior and exterior architectural paints, primers, and stains. Now partnering with Sugar as its CRM provider, the company can deliver on its promise of high-quality products, pricing, and superior customer service.
For over a decade, Kelly-Moore Paints built its business processes on the Salesforce platform, but the foundation made it increasingly difficult and costly to make changes as the company scaled and evolved. Following a thorough search and evaluation, Sugar provided the right mix of out-of-the-box functionality and low-code development to meet the company’s needs now and in the future.
“If you have to ask the question, then it’s time to evaluate the true risks of staying with your current CRM solution,” said Kelly-Moore Paints’ Senior Director of IT, Rebecca Meyer, who led the company’s successful transition to the Sugar platform.
“It came down to finding a modern CRM platform that would do the work for us and remove the administrative burden so our sales teams can focus more on building customer relationships and driving a positive business impact,” said Meyer. “We were able to execute years of back logged functional enhancements for a fraction of the price via a platform that was more accommodating to our business needs.”
“Removing manual data entry tasks and empowering users to focus on relationship building is at the heart of Sugar’s commitment to making the hard things easier for our customers. It’s great to see how this is enabling newfound efficiency for Kelly-Moore Paints,” said Zac Sprackett, Chief Product Officer, SugarCRM.
Organizations rely heavily on sales and marketing technology. However, per Sugar’s global survey of 1,600 sales and marketing leaders, 76 percent say their biggest frustration with CRM is it’s either too complex, not intuitive or user friendly, or cannot be customized.
The Sugar platform democratizes AI and leverages a low-code, no-code approach to make the hard things easier for marketing, sales, and service teams, eliminating blind spots, busy work, and roadblocks.
Editor’s Note: Rebecca Meyer of Kelly-Moore Paints will be a featured guest on the SugarCRM webinar on best practices for a successful CRM transition and implementation on Tuesday, July 19 at 8 AM PT / 11 AM ET. To register for the free webinar, please visit: https://www.sugarcrm.com/resources/dream-different-get-more-less/.
SugarCRM is how marketing, sales, and service teams finally get a clear picture of each customer to help businesses reach new levels of performance and predictability. Sugar is the CRM platform that makes the hard things easier.
Thousands of companies in over 120 countries rely on Sugar to achieve high-definition CX by letting the platform do the work. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Sugar is backed by Accel-KKR.
For more information about SugarCRM, visit: www.sugarcrm.com.
View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220713005144/en/
CONTACT: Erin Lutz
Lutz Public Relations and Marketing (for SugarCRM)
KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA CALIFORNIA
INDUSTRY KEYWORD: MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS APPS/APPLICATIONS TECHNOLOGY SOFTWARE
Copyright Business Wire 2022.
PUB: 07/13/2022 08:00 AM/DISC: 07/13/2022 08:02 AM
MuleSoft Connect New York City 2022 saw plenty of news emanate from the company.
Now residing under the Salesforce parental umbrella after its acquisition, which was completed back in 2018.
Salesforce used MuleSoft Connect 2022 to introduce the next generation of MuleSoft, a technology platform in and of itself that works as a unified solution for automation, integration and API management.
MuleSoft exists to automate any workflow, so that any technical or non-technical team can adapt to change.
The solution now includes Robotic Process Automation (RPA) no-code capabilities to automate repetitive manual tasks using bots in the shape of MuleSoft RPA.
This technology enables users to connect data from any system (such as Slack, Stripe and Workday) with MuleSoft Composer.
PRODUCT NOTE: MuleSoft Composer for Salesforce enables Salesforce admins to connect apps and data to Salesforce and automate integrations with clicks, not code — inside of the Salesforce UI. The idea here is that Salesforce admins don’t have to wait for IT resources to complete their high-priority projects
The new capabilities are fully integrated into Salesforce Flow, a suite of automation technologies across the Salesforce Customer 360 to help save time and increase productivity.
PRODUCT NOTE: Salesforce Customer 360 is an integrated CRM platform product designed to connect business departments to customer data with a single, shared view of customers.
The technology proposition at this point is a chance for business teams (like sales) to be able to close deals more efficiently – also, and service agents can quickly sync customer records to Boost customer service interactions.
“As an integral part of Salesforce Customer 360, MuleSoft helps companies integrate complex systems and data, while expanding the universe of people who can use automation across any system or workflow,” said Shaun Clowes, chief product officer, MuleSoft. “The result is empowered business and IT users, from sales and customer service to HR and finance, who can do more with less – quickly creating workflows and integrations that drive efficient growth and faster time-to-value.”
Salesforce research suggests that more than 90% o organisations have seen a rise in demand for time-saving automation from business teams over the past two years
However, the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world has increased the number of systems and amount of data companies must manage and connect, creating integration roadblocks to automation progress.
When new systems are needed or business requirements change, 96% of companies find it difficult to modify existing automations.
MuleSoft Automation aims to address those concerns with core capabilities as detailed below:.
MuleSoft RPA enables a team to replace repetitive and manual tasks with bots that can process data from any system, document, photo, or legacy user interface. These bots can also be securely shared and reused across teams.
MuleSoft Composer and MuleSoft RPA seamlessly connect applications with pre-built enterprise connectors and bots. These technologies work with Anypoint Platform, MuleSoft’s original integration and API management platform.
Automations can benefit from hundreds of connectors to important systems and even directly invoke APIs created by technical teams.
Teams can use MuleSoft RPA to automate workflows across multiple systems and apps by integrating RPA bots seamlessly with Salesforce Customer 360, Anypoint Platform and MuleSoft Composer.
They can do this while maintaining security and governance – With Anypoint Platform, IT teams can govern, monitor and secure any automation and integration built with APIs or bots.
Salesforce customers are running 4.8 billion MuleSoft transactions daily and decreasing operational costs by 74%, while saving over 100 billion hours of work every month with Salesforce Flow.
Bayer Crop Science is using Salesforce to become more customer-centric, helping farmers and communities sustainably feed the planet with agricultural solutions.
“By integrating Salesforce and legacy systems with MuleSoft, we’re able to provide better customer service experiences with a single view of the customer for teams across our business. With a modernised integration and automation framework, it’s incredible to see our teams developing a product 200% faster and increasing speed to market by 5x so that our customers can use the latest technologies,” said Geoff Hickman, technical architect, Bayer Crop Science.
MuleSoft RPA is expected to be generally available in early August 2022 – and MuleSoft Composer is generally available.
Flow Integration and Flow RPA are built into Salesforce Flow — Flow Integration is powered by MuleSoft Composer and Flow RPA is powered by MuleSoft RPA.
If you want to access great Salesforce content in the car, at the gym or otherwise on the go, podcasts are where it’s at. One of the best things about using a CRM platform like Salesforce is access to the gigantic community that has grown around it over the last 19 years. Salesforce podcasting, like Salesforce blogging, is a surprisingly varied and rich niche. The top podcasts on our list range from highly technical dev talk to general news and best-practice sales and marketing discussions.
Editor’s note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.
The Salesforce Admins Podcast is the official Salesforce podcast for admins, and it’s a great place to start if you want to stay on top of news about Dreamforce (Salesforce’s annual conference), hear personable interviews with Salesforce admins across the country, and learn about new CRM features. This weekly podcast is polished and well edited, and host Gillian Bruce is a great interviewer who keeps the conversation from getting too dry. While you can learn quite a bit from the Salesforce Admins Podcast, it’s also light and entertaining enough to listen to in the car or at the gym.
Tip: Want to learn more about CRM platforms like Salesforce? Check out what we recommend as the best CRM software.
As the name indicates, CloudFocus Weekly is a weekly podcast that focuses on cloud computing (primarily with Salesforce Lightning), and hosts Jason Atwood and Justin Edelstein do an excellent job both reporting on general Dreamforce news (and speculative predictions) and covering freshly rolled-out features and tools. They also discuss implementation processes, organizational tactics within Salesforce, listener questions, best-practice utilization and more. It’s relatively easy to search the catalog of episodes (295 and counting) for what you’re looking for, but the hosts are definite ramblers and the show could use a bit more editing.
The Quotable podcast is produced by Salesforce, but it isn’t directly about CRM software. This podcast is ideal for sales managers and marketers who want to listen to other highly accomplished sales and marketing professionals discuss best practices in recruiting, measuring productivity, streamlining pipelines, cultivating a team environment, and anything else you can think of in the sales space.
Did you know? One of the best things about Quotable is the diversity of guests and topics. You’ll find small business owners talking about values-based selling, CEOs discussing AI, and icons like makeup magnate Bobbi Brown sharing their success stories.
Started by freelance software engineers Jeremy Ross and John De Santiago, Good Day, Sir! definitely has a Salesforce focus, but the hosts also discuss broader tech news (acquisitions, trends, etc.) and share their own experiences with various tools and integrations. Each episode starts with a quick music intro and the hosts catching up on small talk (and sometimes drink recommendations), so the show has a personable feel that makes it great for casual listening.
Code Coverage is witty, snarky and smart. Anyone who has been frustrated with being at the mercy of software updates will get a kick out of developers Matt Lacey and Steven Herod delving into the details of new Salesforce releases in a quippy, surprisingly fun way. The only downside to this podcast is the infrequency of release, but the rambling friends make up for the inconsistency by being so personable you feel like you’re all hanging out in a room together.
SalesforceWay is hosted by Xi Xiao, a Salesforce developer. Xiao, who lives in Finland, often discusses the “three S’s” that a standout Salesforce developer should have: Salesforce technology skills, software engineering skills and soft skills. A typical SalesforceWay episode also includes Xiao interviewing other Salesforce experts on various topics, such as dashboards and analytics. While there is a lot of technical discussions, the podcast offers broader Salesforce lessons. As with many great Salesforce podcasts, Xiao and the show’s guests talk about more universally applicable skills. The whole point is that it’s not just CRM skill that makes the Salesforce developer – the other skills are just as important.
This one’s a bit narrowly focused, compared to the widely applicable lessons you’ll hear in some other Salesforce podcasts. Specifically, Forcepreneur deals with setting up a Salesforce business. Folks in later stages of their careers might find less value in this podcast, but for the newbies in the room, the monthly episodes have much to offer.
Let’s face it: Salesforce talk can get a bit dry and humorless. The Salesforce podcast OrgConfessions solves this problem. On this one-of-a-kind podcast, guests get together to discuss Salesforce misuses that range from the hilarious to the infuriating. In other words, this is a Salesforce podcast that will definitely leave you smiling.
Like OrgConfessions, WizardCast brings the laughs. The show’s hosts, Brian Kwong and Mark Ross, are known for their abundance of puns, which will certainly elicit some sort of reaction in you as you hear all about the nitty-gritty of CRM software. The podcast is geared toward Salesforce admins, developers and related professionals.
It’s easy to forget that not everyone who uses CRM software owns or works at a small business. Freelance consultant and Salesforce architect Brian Shea is a prime example, and his podcast caters to those like himself. Naturally, his Salesforce Freelance Podcast is best for freelance listeners, but his thoughts often prove insightful for CRM users of all stripes.
Tip: When choosing CRM software, there are a variety of factors you should take into account including whether it will fit into your budget, if it has the features and tools you need and if it will support your business now and when it grows
CRM software is so frequently associated with sales that it’s easy to forget how useful it is for marketing too. The Hard Corps Marketing Show, though, won’t let you forget. Hosted by marketing expert and Marine Corps veteran Casey Cheshire, the podcast focuses largely on the overlap between CRM and marketing automation, and it’s as great for marketing experts as it is for total newcomers.
For a quarterly listen to the latest in Salesforce development and tangential matters such as office interactions, System dot Debug might be just what you need. It’s the work of three Salesforce developers who say they feel so strongly bonded to the Salesforce community that they actively work to deliver back to it. Their podcast is their way of doing that.
The Australian Salesforce podcast Talent Hub Talk is the work of Ben Duncombe, who founded the Salesforce recruitment company Talent Hub. Every week, for about 40 minutes, Duncombe gives his latest insights into the ever-evolving Salesforce ecosystem. He often hosts guests whose knowledge, combined with his, make for a truly unforgettable listen.
Mona Bushnell contributed to the writing and research in this article.
Ian Gotts is the founder and CEO at Elements.cloud.
Supercharged by the acceleration of digital transformation, every operational process has been under scrutiny. This has meant nearly every organization has moved some or all of its workloads to the cloud, starting with customer data. This has fuelled the growth of enterprise SaaS vendors, and arguably the most successful has been Salesforce. But they have not been the only winners; Microsoft, ServiceNow, Workday and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) have all seen massive growth.
But the hidden figures are the consulting costs that are required to implement enterprise SaaS. Salesforce reports that partners lead 70% of customer implementations and 89% of customers use partner apps. For every dollar spent on Salesforce in 2019, it was estimated that $4.29 was spent in the ecosystem. By 2021, this had climbed to nearly $5, and it is estimated to increase to $6.19 by 2026. If you take the overall growth of Salesforce revenue over this period, then it represents a 3.5 times increase in revenue for the ecosystem. This comes from IDC’s recent research.
App Stores Are Just Directories
Choosing a partner is as big a decision as choosing the platform. There is too much choice. Salesforce has over 2,000 partners. When looking at vendor platforms, you can evaluate functionality. But how do you evaluate a partner that is made up of teams of people when you have little or no control over who is going to be scheduled on your project?
When talking with a colleague of mine from an analyst firm, he said that he sees a common theme across the customers he is working with. Given there are now thousands of consulting firms for each cloud platform, customers are struggling with identifying, evaluating and selecting the best consultants for their service needs. It is time-consuming, and there is not a centralized hub for insights, best practices or data analysis. Many customers are frustrated, as they feel like they have no clarity on resources needed for a project, the skill level of the consultants assigned, the cost for the project and the proposed quality of delivery.
Obviously, the clearer you are on the scope of the project and the architecture of the solution, the easier it is to narrow down your search. Implementing CPQ requires a different skill set than implementing an omnichannel service call center. Upfront analysis skills are probably portable to other projects, but architectural design, solution design and configuration are wildly different depending on the project.
Picking The Perfect Partner
As I said, you are picking a long-term partner. This is not like picking a restaurant. It is closer to finding a soulmate on Match.com, but with no prenup.
Choosing a well-known or top-tier firm does not guarantee success. There are some stunningly good firms that are great in a niche area, such as CPQ, that could be the perfect fit, but an app store search may list them on page five of the results. Who would ever look past page two?
The data in these results can be captured to apply a more intelligent search to shortlist consulting firms. Companies have developed a database based on more detailed questions about partner competencies. Then their algorithms shortlist companies based on a customer’s business requirements. What is important is that the list will surface those firms that are experts and that may not necessarily appear on app store shortlists, which are based on typical size and revenue criteria—or the human bias of the vendor account team. Often, these teams make recommendations based on firms they’ve worked with before without any measure of the success of the projects.
The Devil Is In The Details
The magic is in the probing questions you can ask of possible partners. These questions can be applied via algorithms to create shortlists, or you can ask them yourself of possible service providers:
• What is the intellectual horsepower of the people hired? How qualified are they? How are they trained? What is the ratio of business analysts to architects to designers to admins to developers to project managers?
• How rigorous and complete is their implementation methodology? What is included in their business analysis, org discovery, architectural design, user stories, DevOps cycle, documentation and, finally, training.
• What applications are used to support the methodology? If the answer is MSOffice or GoogleDocs, then you may need to reconsider their bid.
• How do they leave their clients? Are clients able to continue to innovate with well-documented org and ALM processes? Or are they left dependent on the consulting firm?
This is clearly only a subset of the questions you can ask, but it gives you an idea of the depth of analysis that is required to be able to use a data-driven approach and the value of the database that is being created.
We talked to executives who have been both consultants and ISVs. They see the importance of marketplaces as a discovery and purchase model for buyers. However, they also recognize the growth in the number of providers and sellers in these marketplaces has also created challenges for buyers to discern the best fit for their companies. This is why offerings like databases can help buyers and sellers in marketplaces align better.
The size, complexity and risk of implementation projects have driven the need for consulting firms. The success of SaaS vendors has driven the scale of partner ecosystems. Hidden data can be exposed to allow more intelligent algorithms to shortlist consulting firms. This process will highlight smaller rising stars and level the playing field that is dominated by the larger firms that win work through better vendor relationships and bigger marketing budgets.
The real winners are customers, who will find better long-term partnerships that will deliver a higher ROI from SaaS platform implementations.
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Salesforce West at 50 Fremont St.
Salesforce plans to list 350K SF of office in its namesake tower at 50 Fremont St. in downtown San Francisco, the latest blow to the city's faltering office market.
This is the third such cut to Salesforce's office space in the Bay Area in the last 18 months. The sublease amounts to 40% of the Salesforce West building, which the company purchased in 2015 for $637M, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Salesforce offices are an important part of our culture, and how we use them has evolved. We are subleasing floors in Salesforce West to make the most efficient use of our real estate footprint. We will maintain ownership of the building and can reoccupy the space as needed over time. As the largest private employer in San Francisco, we are deeply committed to the city and are actively welcoming employees back to Salesforce Tower,” the company told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Salesforce co-founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff has been adamant that back-to-office policies are ineffective, stating “office mandates are never going to work,” when speaking at a company event in June, according to Yahoo Finance.
The company has been heavily pushing remote work initiatives for its employees, permanently allowing most of its staff to work remotely earlier this year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
SF YIMBY today reported that Cushman & Wakefield will handle leasing for the space.
Office vacancy in San Francisco hovered at the 20% mark in the second quarter of this year, according to the latest data from Transwestern's San Francisco office.
Transwestern's second-quarter office report noted that negative net absorption increased by 118.4% since last year. Transwestern Senior Research Manager George Entis told Bisnow earlier this month that the office space in San Francisco that has become vacant since 2020 is equal to “seven and a half Salesforce Towers.”
Additionally, layoffs within San Francisco’s tech industry mount, despite the overall low unemployment in the city. Several big-name companies such as Tesla, Twitter, Coinbase and PayPal have cut staff in accurate months.
Salesforce subsidiary MuleSoft is moving further into the automation arena with a new tool, MuleSoft RPA, that will enable business users to record workflows and create bots to do repetitive work for them.
The company will show off the new tool at its MuleSoft Connect event, online and in four cities around the world, beginning June 29.
MuleSoft’s historic strength is in data integration and API management: enterprises such as Decathlon and REA Group use its Anypoint Platform to build modular systems and automate critical business processes.
The company made its first move to democratize automation in March 2021 when it released MuleSoft Composer, a new tool allowing business users to build connections between data held in common applications. It’s built into Salesforce, and can connect to applications including Google Workspace, Oracle NetSuite, Slack or Workday using a visual interface.
Then, in September 2021, MuleSoft acquired Servicetrace, the German developer of the XceleratorOne X1 RPA platform, announcing plans to incorporate it into the MuleSoft product range.
Those plans have now come to fruition. With the screen-scraping capabilities of robotic process automation (RPA), MuleSoft is now aiming to help IT users automate workflows across legacy applications too.
“Where RPA really shines is with applications that don’t have any easily available API [application programming interface] or connectors,” said MuleSoft Chief Product Officer Shaun Clowes.
And that can be a lot of applications. According to Clowes, the typical enterprise has over 950 of them, while MuleSoft offers out-of-the-box connections for around 250.
While the idea is that anyone should be able to create workflow automations with MuleSoft RPA, IT departments will remain in control, says Clowes.
The system allows IT teams to control, at individual, team, or departmental levels, who can automate which applications, and to vet automations before they enter production.
That’s important, said Clowes, because approaching automation the wrong way can end up draining resources, not saving them. He said that a CIO he had spoken with now wants to eliminate the hundreds of hard-to-maintain bots that are stressing his bank’s mainframe.
“There’s always this tension between autonomy and governance,” he said.
With MuleSoft RPA, just as they can with MuleSoft Composer, “You can control who can access different applications, who can build different RPA bots, and they can securely share them only with specific people. IT can control who can access it, they can monitor it, and they can decide, is this working?”
Recording a manual workflow and turning it into a monolithic bot, as some other RPA tools do, can result in some pretty inefficient and hard-to-scale processes, Clowes warned.
With MuleSoft RPA, he said, users (or their IT departments) can break recorded workflows down into reusable, modular elements that can help with scalability and reliability.
For example, if a bot has to open new PDF files as they arrive, extract data from them, and enter it into a user interface, “That’s three separate things,” he said. “Any errors mean the whole thing is paused, and that’s where the reliability problems come in.”
Instead, he said, IT teams can use other MuleSoft tools to build APIs (or use existing ones) to perform tasks such as scanning for new files or extracting the data, using MuleSoft RPA to perform the data entry.
The new RPA capabilities, like those of MuleSoft Composer, will be available both as part of the Salesforce application and separately.
“All of these automation capabilities work together in concert, so if you’ve got a no-code automation you’ve done inside Salesforce, you can get access to the capabilities that would normally be in Anypoint and only be accessible to developers,” Clowes said. Conversely, “Anypoint developers can take advantage of automations and actions that have been created in Salesforce Flow, directly inside the Salesforce application. We’re trying to make it possible for everybody to collaborate, to make all of the different clouds work together as one.”
MuleSoft Composer, announced in April, is now on sale, with different pricing tiers based on the number of connectors available and the number of data transfers or tasks performed.
The company plans to disclose pricing for MuleSoft RPA on its release in August.
Salesforce customer Christine Tran, head of engineering platforms at investment manager Invesco, spoke with reporters about her company’s use of automation at a briefing ahead of MuleSoft Connect.
“MuleSoft has really allowed us to get the right information to the right customers at the right time,” she said.
Offering business users access to automation tools and letting them explore their own needs is helping Invesco’s IT team set development priorities, reuse existing capabilities and components, and deliver the highest value returns on its time, said Tran.
“We’re improving data quality and accessibility and enabling our business to use the data strategically and at scale,” she said.
Revolut is to hire 2,800 new sales agents in the coming year and use a suite of Salesforce tools to scale up and transform the business banking arm of its operation.
Revolut is already harnessing Slack to connect its teams, tools, customers and partners and unlock greater collaboration in a work-from-anywhere world.
In an effort to Boost communications with customers, Revolut has selected the Vonage Contact Center (VCC) for Salesforce, to provide agents with the ability to route calls to one another to successfully deal with any customer issues and customise dashboards with real-time performance data and analytics.
Matthew Acton Davis, global head of sales at Revolut says: “Our partnership with Salesforce and the suite of tools at our disposal helps us to grow the sales organization in an efficient and scalable way as well as deliver the best possible product for our customers, saving money and time for their businesses.”
Revolut Business launched in 2017 and now provides 500,000 companies with multi-currency exchange services, merchant acquiring, and corporate debit cards.
The deal with Revolut was unveiled at Salesforce's World Tour London event, where the company also announced it is working with GoHenry, the prepaid debit card and financial education app for 6 to 18-year-olds, to support its digital infrastructure, centralising collaboration using Slack, and utilising both Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud.
Businesses need to think about ethics from ground zero when they begin conceptualising and developing artificial intelligence (AI) products. This will help ensure AI tools can be implemented responsibly and without bias.
The same approach already is deemed essential to cybersecurity products, where a "security by design" development principle will drive the need to assess risks and hardcode security from the start, so piecemeal patchwork and costly retrofitting can be avoided at a later stage.
This mindset now should be applied to the development of AI products, said Kathy Baxter, principal architect for Salesforce.com's ethical AI practice, who underscored the need for organisations to meet fundamental development standards with AI ethics.
She noted that there were many lessons to be learned from the cybersecurity industry, which had evolved in the past decades since the first malware surfaced in the 1980s. For a sector that did not even exist before that, cybersecurity since had transformed the way companies protected their systems, with emphasis on identifying risks from the start and developing basic standards and regulations that should be implemented.
As a result, most organisations today would have put in place basic security standards that all stakeholders including employees should observe, Baxter said in an interview with ZDNet. All new hires at Salesforce.com, for instance, have to undergo an orientation process where the company outlines what is expected of employees in terms of cybersecurity practices, such as adopting a strong password and using a VPN.
The same applied to ethics, she said, adding that there was an internal team dedicated to driving this within the company.
There also were resources to help employees assess whether a task or service should be carried out based on the company's guidelines on ethics and understand where the red lines were, Baxter said. Salesforce.com's AI-powered Einstein Vision, for example, can never be used for facial recognition, so any sales member who is not aware of this and tries to sell the product for such deployment will be doing so in violation of the company's policies.
And just as cybersecurity practices were regularly reviewed and revised to keep pace with the changing threat landscape, the same should be applied to polices related to AI ethics, she said.
This was critical as societies and cultures changed over time, where values once deemed relevant 10 years ago might no longer be aligned with views a country's population held today, she noted. AI products needed to reflect this.
While policies could mitigate some risks of bias in AI, there remained other challenges--in particular, access to data. A lack of volume or variety could result in an inaccurate representation of an industry or segment.
This was a significant challenge in the healthcare sector, particularly in countries such as the US where there were no socialised medicine or government-run healthcare systems, Baxter said. When AI models were trained by limited datasets based on a narrow subset of a population, it could impact the delivery of healthcare services and ability to detect diseases for certain groups of people.
Salesforce.com, which cannot access or use its customers' data to train its own AI models, will plug the gaps by purchasing from external sources such as linguistic data, which is used to train its chatbots, as well as tapping synthetic data.
Asked about the role regulators played in driving AI ethics, Baxter said mandating the use of specific metrics could be harmful as there still were many questions around the definition of "explainable AI" and how it should be implemented.
The Salesforce.com executive is a member of Singapore's advisory council on the ethical use of AI and data, which advises the government on policies and governance related to the use of data-driven technologies in the private sector.
Pointing to her experience on the council, Baxter said its members realised quickly that defining "fairness" alone was complicated, with some two dozens statistical definitions. Furthermore, what was fair for one group sometimes inevitably would be less fair for another, she noted.
Defining "explainability" also was complex where even machine learning experts could misinterpret how a model worked based on pre-defined explanations, she said. Set policies or regulations should be easily understood by anyone who used AI-powered data and across all sectors, such as field agents or social workers.
Realising that such issues were complex, Baxter said the Singapore council determined it would be more effective to establish a framework and guidelines, including toolkits, to help AI adopters understand its impact and be transparent with their use of AI.
Singapore last month released a toolkit, called A.I. Verify, that it said would enable businesses to demonstrate their "objective and verifiable" use of AI. The move was part of the government's efforts to drive transparency in AI deployments through technical and process checks.
Baxter urged the need to dispel the misconception that AI systems were by default fair simply because they were machines and, hence, devoid of bias. Organisations and governments must invest the efforts to ensure AI benefits were equally distributed and its application met certain criteria of responsible AI, she said.
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