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McKinsey and Salesforce Team Up Amid Fierce Competition to Lead Enterprise AI

McKinsey and Salesforce Team Up Amid Fierce Competition to Lead Enterprise AI

Enterprise tech giants McKinsey and Salesforce announced a new collaboration today aimed at accelerating the adoption of generative AI across sales, marketing, commerce, and customer service applications. However, the partnership enters a fiercely competitive landscape where partnerships between rival tech leaders and AI pure plays threaten disruption.

Navigating a Crowded Arena of Alliances

Prominent partnerships like IBM-Salesforce, Microsoft-Accenture, EY-Infosys, and more signal big bets on AI’s potential. But McKinsey and Salesforce will need to prove their collaboration can responsibly deliver measurable value. AI disruptors like OpenAI also pose a threat.

So, it remains to be seen whether the McKinsey-Salesforce collaboration will maintain its perceived position as the leaders in unlocking the potential of AI for business. Nonetheless, the partnership represents a doubling down by both companies staking their claim on enterprise AI.

“Generative AI is a powerful catalyst for growth. But the promise of AI needs to be backed by built-for-growth technology and the operational muscle to fully realize the potential,” said Lareina Yee, Senior Partner at McKinsey in an announcement. “Building on our strong alliance, we are collaborating with Salesforce on this critical front.”

Salesforce’s Einstein AI and Customer 360 data platform will be core building blocks. McKinsey will contribute proprietary data models, AI assets, and expertise in solution design and organizational change management. The goal is to help companies connect relevant structured CRM data with other internal and external unstructured data sources.

“In today’s business landscape, adopting an AI-first approach rooted in trust and transparency isn’t a choice, but a necessity to succeed,” said Clara Shih, CEO of Salesforce AI in an announcement. “Salesforce and McKinsey are coming together to empower every company with the strategies and technologies needed to fully leverage generative AI.”

Realizing the Potential of AI for the Enterprise

Recent McKinsey analysis estimates generative AI could drive 15% higher marketing budgets and 5% greater sales productivity. The key will be using AI to unlock insights from customer data to deliver more personalized, relevant, and timely experiences.

For example, generative AI could help marketers optimize campaigns by analyzing customer segmentation data, past campaign performance, and external market trends. It could then generate tailored messaging and creative content optimized for each target audience.

In sales, AI could surface relevant insights about client needs and pain points from emails, call transcripts, and reports to recommend talking points to advance deals. It could also generate first drafts of proposals and contracts tailored to each situation.

For customer service, generative AI could review past tickets and FAQs to assist agents in solving new cases faster. It could also generate conversational responses to common customer inquiries to automate more repetitive tasks.

An End-to-End Enterprise AI Solution

McKinsey and Salesforce aim to provide an end-to-end solution taking companies from identifying high-potential AI applications to testing and deploying at enterprise scale.

It starts with consulting on AI strategy, including which use cases could drive the most business value. McKinsey then rapidly prototypes solutions using Salesforce’s Flex development platform.

They test Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) with real users to gather feedback and refine the AI experience. Finally, they work closely with clients on change management to ensure adoption across sales, marketing, and service teams.

McKinsey’s recently acquired AI by McKinsey unit provides data science, MLOps, and AI engineering talent. Its QuantumBlack acquisition offers additional data engineering capabilities.

These skills will be combined with Salesforce’s Einstein AI, CRM workflows, and connected Customer 360 data. Together, the companies can deliver AI solutions purpose-built for each client’s specific needs.

Partnerships Racing to Shape the AI-Driven Enterprise

The new collaboration builds on an existing alliance between McKinsey and Salesforce helping enterprise clients digitally transform. It follows McKinsey’s acquisition of S4G, a Salesforce platinum consulting partner, last year.

The partnership comes at an inflection point for AI adoption amidst fierce competition. Prominent alliances signal big bets on AI’s potential. But responsible deployment focused on customer benefit will be critical.

Close collaboration between human-centered enterprises could help ensure generative AI realizes its potential as a positive business and social force. However, disruptive AI pure-plays like OpenAI also pose a threat.

In this rapidly evolving landscape, the McKinsey-Salesforce partnership represents the latest salvo. But its ultimate success will depend on execution in delivering measurable value for global enterprises seeking to lead with AI.