Global consulting agency McKinsey & Company and enterprise software provider Salesforce are teaming up to help businesses in the sectors of sales, marketing, commerce, and service speed up their adoption of generative AI.

The collaboration is designed to merge Salesforce’s popular customer relationship management (CRM) software, including its intelligent Einstein applications and Data Cloud, with McKinsey’s specialized AI and data models.

Specifically, McKinsey and Salesforce will offer customers a “new end-to-end experience,” in which McKinsey will listen to and analyze a customer’s business goals and, using McKinsey’s “rapid solution design,” will create a proof-of-concept and minimum viable product (MVP) AI tool customized for the customer.

Complimentary strengths…and conflicts

McKinsey has recent experience in the area, having built its own internal AI assistant for consultants, Lilli, as VentureBeat reported exclusively here.

Salesforce, meanwhile, has been aggressively building out its AI application portfolio for customers on the heels of its “AI Day” in New York City earlier this year, including the launch of its new AI Cloud supporting enterprise-grade integrations between Salesforce and Einstein apps and leading third-party large language models (LLMs), such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Meta’s LLaMA 2. The company is expected to debut a wide array of new AI features at its annual Dreamforce conference this coming week.

Salesforce also recently announced a similar collaborative AI adoption framework with IBM and its consulting arm, which is in some ways a rival to the new announcement with McKinsey. Salesforce appears to be playing “both sides” or at least offering AI adoption tools through a range of techno-consulting partners, which makes sense, as it seeks to retain its prominence as the leading CRM provider in the AI age.

“Our joint team of data scientists, solution architects, cloud engineers, UX designers and organization culture specialists will work side by side with company teams,” McKinsey writes in a press release.

The end result is hopefully improved customer interactions, more personalized marketing, more and faster sales, and more defrayed customer service calls.

Lareina Yee, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, emphasized the role of AI as a “powerful catalyst for growth.” She pointed out that the collaboration would help businesses turn “innovation into impact” by integrating these technologies directly into Salesforce’s existing workflows.

Clara Shih, CEO of Salesforce AI, echoed this sentiment, noting that an “AI-first approach rooted in trust and transparency” is essential for any company looking to grow in today’s market.

The financial upside

According to McKinsey’s own research, the impact of generative AI on the global economy could be monumental. The technology has the potential to unlock as much as $4.4 trillion in global productivity over the coming decades (though McKinsey has been criticized for making similarly lofty claims about other tech trends, such as the metaverse, that have not panned out).

McKinsey believes GenAI could boost marketing spending by 5-15 percent and enhance sales productivity by 3-5 percent.

With 40 percent of enterprises planning to invest in this kind of AI, the collaboration between Salesforce and McKinsey could be a game-changer for many businesses, helping them achieve measurable results.

Streamlining AI adoption

What sets this partnership apart is its focus on creating a seamless experience for companies from start to finish.

Businesses will be able to link their strategic goals with specific AI applications, going from a proof of concept to full-scale deployment.

McKinsey and Salesforce are offering a joint team consisting of data scientists, cloud engineers, and various other specialists to work directly with teams to make this happen.

The collaboration is also user-friendly, offering companies the option to “bring your own LLM” (language learning model) and prioritizing a straightforward platform where businesses can easily view data and ask questions.

Building on a collaborative, overlapping history

This isn’t the first time McKinsey and Salesforce have worked together. McKinsey acquired Salesforce Platinum Partner S4G Consulting last year, and both companies have been key players in helping organizations speed up their digital transformations. This new venture adds to McKinsey’s growing portfolio of AI capabilities, which includes recent acquisitions like Candid and Iguazio, and affiliations like its corporate program with Stanford Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

In a world that’s rapidly digitizing, companies need to move fast and adapt even faster. The McKinsey-Salesforce collaboration offers businesses an opportunity to do just that, providing a comprehensive set of tools and expertise to fully leverage the power of generative AI. While the promises of AI have been talked about for years, this partnership could be the key to turning those promises into tangible business results.

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