The animated assistant immediately sparked comparisons to Clippy, Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) erstwhile office assistant of 1990's fame. Now, some observers see Einstein as a potentially serious competitive advantage for Salesforce. In a note to clients this week, Brian J. White of Monness Crespi Hardt described Einstein as an "increasingly important in differentiating the Salesforce platform."
At Dreamforce, Salesforce's tech conference taking place this week, executives showed off updates Einstein, including a voice assistant feature called Einstein Voice, and talked up the feature as the secret sauce that will ensure the market dominance of Salesforce's cloud suite.
The new voice feature, which was announced last week but demonstrated to a vast audience of attendees during a keynote, makes it possible to access business data and automate tasks and commands using your voice. Onstage, Salesforce exec Tony Prophet demonstrated a "device agnostic" approach that allows Einstein to be integrated into Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) Siri, Amazon's (AMZN - Get Report) Alexa and Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Google Assistant.
"It's not a coincidence that Amazon, Alexa and Siri played a big part in that demo," Salesforce's product chief, Bret Taylor, told investors at an event happening adjacent to the conference. "Voice is a mix of this device ecosystem produced exclusively by companies other than Salesforce...and our platform, which is about providing conversational customer experiences and conversational interfaces to Salesforce leveraging those devices."
The company's ambitions for Einstein extend beyond just a Siri-esque voice assistant for business or customer service transactions: There's also Einstein Vision, for example, a feature that allows users to take a photo and automatically surface information about a project or object.
"It's not about voice recognition, but about actions and commands and tasks that are happening in a computerized way. It's quite powerful," Salesforce's CFO Mark Hawkins told investors. "Our product advantage is unmatched in our market space. We know that that's helping to drive durable growth for sure."
Salesforce's stock was up 1.33% on Thursday.
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