Salesforce will be using IBM Watson to make its Einstein AI service even smarter

Marc Benioff and Ginni RomettyIBMSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Watson and Einstein are teaming up.

The two artificial intelligence products from IBM and Salesforce, respectively, are being brought together as part of a new partnership between the tech companies.

Besides creating a tag team named after two familiar characters from literature and science, the AI partnership is designed to help retailers crunch a broad variety of data — including customer shopping preferences, weather data and industry information — to boost business.

IBM and Saleforce describe the new partisanship like this:

By combining local shopping patterns, weather and retail industry data from Watson with customer-specific shopping data and preferences from Salesforce Einstein, a retailer will be able to automatically send highly personalised and localised email campaigns to shoppers.

IBM is also making weather data available to Salesforce customers as a service, to help them analyse how weather events impact their business.

This new partnership comes after IBM acquired huge Salesforce partner Bluewolf Group, with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s blessing, a year ago, reportedly spending $US200 million on that deal. IBM had been a consulting partner for Salesforce, but the acquisition really upped its game there.

As companies increasingly ditch old-fashioned software and opt for the cloud instead, Salesforce has been a big winner. The classic software projects that previously made up much of IBM’s consulting business (and a good chunk of its hardware sales, such as giant SAP installations), has been the big loser.

The good news for IBM: not only are companies buying Salesforce’s cloud apps, but they are paying consultants big bucks to do all sorts of custom apps and integration work for them. At the time of Bluewolf acquisition, IBM said the Salesforce professional services industry was projected to be a whopping $US111 billion market.

By bringing its all-important Watson service to Salesforce and Einstein customers, IBM is determined to double-down on that huge Salesforce consulting market, not compete with it.

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