Book Image

Architecting AI Solutions on Salesforce

By : Lars Malmqvist
Book Image

Architecting AI Solutions on Salesforce

By: Lars Malmqvist

Overview of this book

Written for Salesforce architects who want quickly implementable AI solutions for their business challenges, Architecting AI Solutions on Salesforce is a shortcut to understanding Salesforce Einstein’s full capabilities – and using them. To illustrate the full technical benefits of Salesforce’s own AI solutions and components, this book will take you through a case study of a fictional company beginning to adopt AI in its Salesforce ecosystem. As you progress, you'll learn how to configure and extend the out-of-the-box features on various Salesforce clouds, their pros, cons, and limitations. You'll also discover how to extend these features using on- and off-platform choices and how to make the best architectural choices when designing custom solutions. Later, you'll advance to integrating third-party AI services such as the Google Translation API, Microsoft Cognitive Services, and Amazon SageMaker on top of your existing solutions. This isn’t a beginners’ Salesforce book, but a comprehensive overview with practical examples that will also take you through key architectural decisions and trade-offs that may impact the design choices you make. By the end of this book, you'll be able to use Salesforce to design powerful tailor-made solutions for your customers with confidence.
Table of Contents (17 chapters)
1
Section 1: Salesforce and AI
3
Section 2: Out-of-the-Box AI Features for Salesforce
8
Section 3: Extending and Building AI Features
12
Section 4: Making the Right Decision

Meet Pickled Plastics Ltd.

You always learn better from an example. Therefore, when going through the technical material in this book, we shall relate it to real-world scenarios to make them more concrete and meaningful. The vehicle by which we shall do this is the fictional company Pickled Plastics Ltd. In this section, I will go through the company, its IT infrastructure, and its use of Salesforce. This will be the baseline environment into which we will be adding new functionality as we go through the chapters to come.

Pickled Plastics Ltd. is a UK-headquartered manufacturing company, with local sales subsidiaries in 37 countries worldwide. The company is family-owned and employs about 3,000 people, with most being either in production or sales. The company has historically been slow to adopt new technologies. Still, 5 years ago, it hired a particularly forward-thinking Chief Information Officer (CIO) and is now considered among the most technologically forward manufacturers in the UK. This has coincided with a period of high single-digit growth, which for the industry is considered excellent.

Pickled Plastics Ltd. has been a Salesforce user since 2011, but it was only with the new CIO's entry that it started taking it seriously as a significant business-critical system. Now, however, it is a serious user, with a well-established center of excellence. It has adopted the Sales and Service Cloud throughout the business and across all subsidiaries. Besides, it has an extensive Community Cloud implementation, catering to its distributors in various countries.

Outside the UK, most business is done B2B through local distributors, but in the UK itself, Pickled Plastics Ltd. also sells directly to consumers through a subsidiary called Handsome Homewares. Handsome Homewares has a standalone Salesforce environment that includes Marketing Cloud, which is used to deliver customer journeys via email marketing, and B2C Commerce Cloud, which runs a small-scale webshop. The company is considering rolling out a B2C presence in more countries, so the technology investment in Handsome Homewares is also seen to prepare for this eventuality.

In addition to Salesforce, Pickled Plastics Ltd. is heavily invested in a reasonably old SAP implementation that runs all major backend processes and financials. It has a bespoke homemade middleware platform that it maintains, although replacing this is on the long-term roadmap. It has experimented with various public clouds and is open to using these services, but has not invested heavily in any of them so far.

You can see an overview of the system landscape in the following diagram:

Figure 1.3 – Pickled Plastics Ltd. system landscape

Figure 1.3 – Pickled Plastics Ltd. system landscape

The key strategic priority for the next 3 years of IT investment is AI. The company has so far not conducted any serious studies or done any real projects in this space. Still, with her usual bravado, the CIO has declared that Pickled Plastics Ltd. will have become an AI-driven intelligent manufacturer within 3 years. What that means is still a little unclear, but the appetite to invest in AI projects is clear.

Because of how its center of excellence is set up and the kind of capabilities it has in-house, Pickled Plastics Ltd. has a strong preference for out-of-the-box solutions. All of its existing implementations use 90%+ configurations over customization, and it has a strong preference for continuing this principle in the future. That being said, if there is a genuine need to do something different, it can make it happen. While the company does not have many deep technical resources on staff, these can be procured through long-standing vendor relationships. The preference, however, remains for out-of-the-box solutions.

Throughout the rest of the book, we shall be checking back in with Pickled Plastics Ltd. on an ongoing basis to see how the features we are talking about can help it on its journey. At the end of the book, it'll be a lot closer to realizing its goal of becoming an AI-driven business.