The AI revolution in CRM

By Henning Lund - June 01, 2021

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If Artificial Intelligence (AI) seemed taken from a sci-fi book a couple of decades ago, it has today become a fact. AI is an integral part of our everyday life. The progress in the domain of machine intelligence has been such that the younger generations have started taking it for granted. 

Ai is no longer a buzzword. Today, it is integrated into machines, tools and business applications such as CRM software. AI systems have in many ways revolutionized CRM. 

What is AI in CRM?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of computers to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence. With time, AI research has allowed developers to create computer programs that can “think” like humans.

The result in CRM is intelligent business applications that can make business decisions based on collected customer data. This could be a system that suggests what the sales team’s next phone calls should be. AI in CRM systems could also take the form of a suggested list of activities or enhanced predictive reports. 

Marketing bots are also a consequence of the presence of AI in CRM. Organizations use marketing bots to perform some marketing functions formerly held by people. For example, marketing chatbots are those used to have chat conversations with users on websites. Chatbots simulate a live conversation while the answers are computer generated. 

The list of potential benefits of AI in CRM for large or small businesses seems almost endless: 

  • Better targeted and automated marketing campaigns
  • Improved customer experiences by enhancing all interactions with customers
  • Top-rated customer satisfaction
  • Increased sales 
  • New up-sell and cross-sell possibilities, offering additional products and services to the right people for the right reason
  • Spot on customer service and support
  • Improved employee engagement and effectiveness, as they are not wasting time looking for information
  • etc.

CRM: the 360-degree customer view is not enough

Since the early days of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), we have been sold the idea of the customer 360-degree view. CRM vendors and companies have been seeking this holy grail of CRM for these past decades. 

About 30 years ago, the idea of joining all the information that sales, marketing and service people need in one system was amazing. It seemed like achieving a tremendous milestone towards having a full picture of our customers’ needs. 

At the time, being able to use this information to treat customers differently was a game changer. Thirty years ago, the idea of CRM alone was truly revolutionary. And we were far from being able to envision what would come afterwards.


CRM applications have gained in functionality over the years. They have become mobile, they were put on the Cloud, and they embraced the emergence of social and IoT. All these amazing business disruptions have taken customer understanding to an entire new level. 

Each step of the way, we thought we had reached the 360-degrees customer view. Each and every time, we surely got closer, but each time, new innovation took us to a new, higher level. 

The customer's 360-degree view has been much of a moving target. With AI in CRM, we are yet again in the middle of another CRM revolution.

To get a real time and updated 360-degree view on clients, you also need to embed information you don’t have today. This could be data you purchase from service providers that listen in on social media, commercial platforms and any place information can be traced. 

Most companies today have a massive amount of data to process from multiple types of sources. It is literally impossible to store this information on a customer file in order to make business decisions.

Therefore the holy grail of CRM does not lie in the availability of data, but rather in processing and transforming data into actions.




Salesforce has been leading the quest for the CRM Holy Grail since the early days of CRM. Their first move was to bet on a no software CRM solution at the time when the Cloud scared the most away. 

Today, Salesforce offers a solution that can take you a step closer to truly understanding your customers. 

There are many things to love about Salesforce. There is that amazing partner community and unique ohana feeling that they simply convey. There is also the way they keep pushing the boundaries of what you can get from your CRM system. 

Let’s take a few examples:

  • AppExchange: Salesforce AppExchange is a brilliant idea, perfectly executed. They developed a platform for partners to promote their certified add-on solutions/apps. Partners and customers all over the world can then easily  find, investigate and download them.
    AppExchange displays a wealth of apps that can bring additional value to Salesforce customers. These could be add-ons to boost sales, marketing, service, or even finance, HR, ERP or integration capabilities to Salesforce.
    Salesforce developed the AppExchange platform to help their customers get the most out of their Salesforce investment.
    There is nothing new about having an App-platform. Apple has one. Microsoft has one. But imagine that you have a sophisticated, fully embedded solution installed with a click as if it was an app on the phone. Add to this a security review. That is unique.
  • Lightning: Salesforce Lightning is also a great example. More than a simple new interface, Lightning is a completely reimagined user experience. It is a new design system that helps build new apps and leverage the new user experience for the benefit of Salesforce customers.
  • Einstein: Salesforce Einstein is the Salesforce approach to artificial intelligence (AI). And it is well incorporated into their products.


Imagine a system that would track, collect information from all available data sources, including social sources and smart, connected devices. Imagine this system would not only make these available for you to use, but that would also suggest what your next action should be? 

Imagine a system that would analyze how your leads are behaving on social media to plan your next move at the very best time. It would then prepare the email with the relevant information and let you simply review and send in order to secure a deal? 

Fancy a system that would analyze how your leads and prospects react to your communications and would suggest new routes or ways of interacting with them based on this insight? 

Salesforce Einstein makes this possible. Salesforce Einstein (and generally AI) is the new major step towards a true 360-degree customer view. It is an innovation that was hard to predict at the early days of the CRM era.

AI and Salesforce Einstein are just beyond clever. It is the equivalent of bringing a data analyst in your Salesforce system. And yet, remember that the current Salesforce Einstein is probably just scratching the surface of what AI will be able to do for our customer interactions in the coming years.



Think about it: the more data Einstein can get access to, the better it will help you to service your customers and win deals. By integrating Salesforce to other applications (for example ERP solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics products), Einstein can become even more clever. It can help you achieve incremental productivity improvements.

So, does Einstein deliver the long awaited CRM Holy Grail? The truth is we are probably not there yet. 

This is why it is so fantastic working with technology. The minute you think you are there, it keeps taking you to new heights. What will the industry manage to do with artificial intelligence? Where will Salesforce partners take the idea of Einstein through new apps? 

And even more important: what will the next revolutionary move be?

About the author

Henning Lund

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With over 25 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward, Henning is considered a business development entrepreneur with a passion for transforming businesses, sales and marketing operations through out-of-the-box thinking, concepts building and process automation to improve overall performance and scalability.
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