IBM and Salesforce shake hands on artificial intelligence

Salesforce CEO: A landmark agreement to bring together two amazing technologies
Salesforce CEO: A landmark agreement to bring together two amazing technologies

IBM is teaming up with Salesforce to make it easier for Salesforce customers to use data from IBM's Watson artificial intelligence platform. As part of the partnership, IBM has signed a deal to deploy the Salesforce Service Cloud for internal use there. The value of the deal and proposed pricing of the joint products were not disclosed.

The deal has several parts. Among the most notable:

  • IBM Watson APIs will be integrated into Salesforce. This means that companies using Salesforce will more easily be able to ingest information from IBM's Watson artificial intelligence platform, such as weather or local shopping patterns, according to the companies.
  • The Weather Company, which IBM acquired in 2015, will provide a new component on the Salesforce AppExchange so that Salesforce customers can pull weather data more easily into their apps.
  • Bluewolf, an IBM-owned consulting company, will offer a new practice to help customers combine IBM Watson with Salesforce's own artificial intellligence capabilities known as Einstein.

Both companies, like many others in the tech industry, are making investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, by which computer programs attempt to connect data in new ways to provide new kinds of insights and assistance to users, and both frequently cite the importance of AI in their sales pitches to customers.

IBM Watson suffered some bad publicity in February, however, when University of Texas auditors released a scathing report on a high-profile project involving Watson at MD Anderson hospital and placed the project on hold, although they cautioned that the decision "should not be interpreted as an opinion on the scientific basis or functional capabilities of the system in its current state."

Virginia Rometty, chief executive officer of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), gestures as she speaks during a panel session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017.
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