Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most exciting technologies in decades, with an exponential adoption curve, making it critical for CIOs and IT leaders to prepare for how it’ll show up across the enterprise.

By Zuko Mdwaba, Salesforce area vice-president/Africa executive and South Africa country leader

Combining AI technologies, automation at scale and real-time data analytics can help organisations make every employee more productive and every customer experience better.

Generative AI – which not only classifies or predicts, but creates its own content with a human-like command of language – won’t just enhance work, but transform it fundamentally.


AI is placing tools of unprecedented power, flexibility, and even personalisation into everyone’s hands, requiring little more than natural language to operate, assisting us in many parts of our lives, taking on the role of super powered collaborators.


Connecting with customers in new ways

Research shows that 65% of consumers say they will remain loyal to companies that offer a more personalised experience, with over 60% expecting companies to react instantly with up-to-date information when transferred between departments.Generative AI has the potential to elevate the customer experience through deeper insights to help organisations connect with their customers in new, more relevant ways.

For example, customer service agents can automatically generate knowledge articles from past case notes, and auto-generate personalised agent chat replies to increase customer satisfaction through personalised and expedited service interactions.

For sales representatives, they can auto-generate sales tasks like composing emails, scheduling meetings, and preparing for the next interaction. Similarly, marketers can generate personalised content faster to engage customers and prospects across email, mobile, web, and advertising.

AI is not what most influences business growth and customer retention, of course. Across every industry, costs and availability of products and services are among several factors which support or hinder companies’ efforts to meet customer expectations. Rather, it is how organisations understand the key dimensions of growth and customer loyalty, and thereafter embed AI into their business processes that will make them more powerful.

Combining generative AI and collaborative technologies will deliver greater productivity for customers and companies alike. AI-powered conversation summaries and research tools, for instance, will help users catch up on what’s happening quicker and instantly find answers on any project or topic — whether they’re researching best practices or prospecting a new account. Drafting messages in seconds to communicate with customers and teams, spending less time crafting replies and meeting notes, means more time putting plans in action.

Accelerating employee productivity and connecting directly with customers will be key drivers of business efficiency and growth.


Making AI a safer and transparent partner

The power of Generative AI is not without risks, however. Although it gets a lot of things right, it can get many things wrong. As businesses look to adapt these technologies, it’s critical that they do so with care.

At Salesforce, like all of our innovations, we are embedding ethical guardrails and guidance across our products to help customers innovate responsibly — and catch potential problems before they happen. We’ve set out five guidelines we’re using to guide the development of trusted generative AI, at Salesforce and beyond: accuracy, safety, honesty, empowerment, and sustainability.

AI is only as good as the data that’s powering it along with keeping humans in the loop to check and verify. Trust must be the most critical element of its development, the content these models create, and the platforms on which they run. Guidelines are available to help organisations with the responsible development and implementation of generative AI.

To make AI safer and more transparent, we must begin with awareness. Business leaders must educate themselves on the implications of AI and equip users with a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. Providing explainability or citing sources for why and how an AI system created the content it did can also address issues of trust and accuracy.

The world must be given good reasons to trust these models at every level. If we can deliver that, without compromise, there’s no doubt that this technology will change the world for the better.