Partnering with C3.ai and Adobe to re-invent CRM with AI
Alysa Taylor - Corporate Vice President, Business Applications & Industry
As organizations worldwide continue to respond and react to a new business climate, we have seen more clearly than ever that the traditional approach to business applications is no longer sufficient. Organizations need a new class of business applications that provides the agility to see and respond to emerging trends, new opportunities, and potential risks so that ultimately, they can delight their customers and deliver the business outcomes that truly matter.
That’s why today we are excited to announce, together with C3.ai and Adobe, the launch of C3 AI CRM powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365. C3 AI CRM leverages Dynamics 365 as the foundation for end-to-end, intelligent customer engagement, with Adobe Experience Cloud providing real-time customer profile and customer journey management, together with C3.ai’s industry-specific enterprise AI capabilities.
With C3 AI CRM, organizations can unlock the power of AI-driven customer relationship management in a solution purpose-built for specific industries, leveraging data from any source to produce predictive business insights. We are proud to welcome C3.ai to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ecosystem, and to continue our collaboration with Adobe.
We had a chance to catch up with Amit Ahuja from Adobe and Ed Abbo from C3.ai to talk a little more about this partnership.
Why is traditional CRM insufficient for today’s enterprise requirements?
Ed: When we first created CRM back in the 1990s, it revolutionized sales, marketing, and customer service. Back then, the vast majority of customer data—contact and account information, transaction history, service history, pricing, etc.—resided in internal enterprise systems. CRM unified those internal silos and applied rules-based workflows to customer-facing processes—and three decades later, today’s CRM systems still operate in much the same way, even though the world has dramatically changed. Today’s CRM applications are backward-looking systems of record. But what businesses require are forward-looking, predictive systems of intelligence that provide real-time, data-driven insights to deliver the optimal customer experience
In today’s digital world, the vast majority of data relevant for CRM resides in external, rather than internal, sources—social network relationships, online activity, market and economic data, credit scores, financial filings, etc. All of that data must be unified and analyzed with AI using advanced machine learning methods that have been developed within the last 5 – 10 years. The data in today’s CRM systems is not sufficient for AI, and they were not built with architectures designed to aggregate, unify, and apply machine learning to petabyte-scale volumes of disparate, structured, and unstructured data. You can’t simply bolt these capabilities onto traditional CRM systems as an afterthought—it requires a modern AI-first architecture.
Alysa: We see the same trend, with the volume of data just growing exponentially. For organizations to succeed in this climate, they need to do two things. First, they need to aggregate data from across their organization and leveraging the external data Ed talks about. With that, they can access a 360-degree view of their customers and indeed, their entire operation. Second, they need a solution that applies intelligence to the entirety of that data estate, so they can quickly make decisions that generate new value for their organizations and deliver exceptional experiences for their customers.
On top of that, we have seen that the definition of CRM has broadened—it’s not just about salesforce automation anymore. Organizations need solutions that allow them to understand and optimize the broader customer engagement journey, from marketing and sales all the way to back-end service and support, taking advantage of that unified approach to data and pervasive AI.
Amit: The antiquated model of static, siloed customer profiles do not work anymore. Legacy CRM products were not designed to aggregate, unify, and apply advanced machine learning models to today’s massive, disparate data sets. For today’s digital businesses, it’s not enough to have the most data, you need the right data—behavioral, transactional, and operational—to understand your customer, and the intelligence to act on it in the moment.
Why did C3.ai partner with Microsoft and Adobe to build the world’s first AI CRM application for industries?
Ed: C3.ai, Microsoft, and Adobe bring together the perfect combination of technology, industry, and domain expertise to address the requirements for a new generation of CRM. No technology company has a greater footprint and credibility in the enterprise globally than Microsoft with its ecosystem of Microsoft Dynamics 365 business applications, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Microsoft Power Platform, powered by Microsoft Azure. And Adobe has set the standard for the customer digital experience with Adobe Experience Cloud. C3.ai brings expertise in industry-specific Enterprise AI and, of course, a management team with deep experience in CRM.
Importantly, in addition to this combination of leading technologies and expertise, we share a common vision with our partners of an AI-first, industry-specific approach to delivering a new generation of AI CRM solutions. There is an enormous opportunity to reinvent CRM for the 21st century, leveraging technologies that did not exist when today’s CRM products were designed, to bring exciting new capabilities to customers that will enable them, in turn, to deliver better experiences for their customers and grow their business.
Alysa: We have had a longstanding partnership collaborating with C3.ai in the enterprise AI space, most recently this spring announcing how C3.ai adopted and deployed Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Teams in less than two weeks to help streamline sales operations, collaborate in real time, expand mobile capabilities to power remote selling and generate new business opportunities. We’re excited to deepen that partnership with this announcement, allowing our mutual customers to leverage the combined power of Azure, C3.ai, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and the Adobe Experience Cloud. Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers a full portfolio of intelligent business applications. By integrating C3.ai’s industry-specific data and AI models and Adobe’s best-in-class customer experience engine, our customers will realize even greater value from Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Amit: Digital transformation has taken on a heightened urgency. Customer journeys are complex, and they expect consistent, personalized experiences across every touch point. To deliver those personalized experiences, brands are challenged to bring together disparate data sets. Bringing together Adobe’s customer experience leadership with C3.ai’s deep AI expertise and Microsoft’s CRM platform enables a new caliber of customer engagement by fusing behavioral data into customer profiles, orchestrating customer journeys and delivering real-time customer experiences.
How does this solution leverage the Open Data Initiative (ODI)?
Alysa: The work on ODI continues, and today’s announcement with C3.ai is another example of how, together with Adobe, we are delivering progress on the vision that drives ODI. The momentum we have gained is exciting, and our work continues to be validated by partners like C3.ai who share our desire to help organizations put their data to work quickly, removing friction, and derive value from their data—particularly when that data is siloed across multiple systems and sources. We’re excited to see how ODI will continue to help companies transform their customer experiences through real-time insights delivered from the cloud.
Amit: We’re excited about the momentum we’ve gained with ODI, and our work continues to be validated by partners such as C3.ai who share our desire to help organizations put their data to work quickly, removing friction and deriving value.
What customer outcomes will C3 AI CRM powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Adobe Experience Cloud deliver?
Ed: Bringing an AI-first, industry-specific approach, C3 AI CRM delivers a precision system of intelligence that unlocks powerful new capabilities for customers. Consider revenue forecasting, for example. We can now unify and analyze extraprise data—SEC filings, equities prices, market data, and so on—to create far more accurate forecasts. Similarly, whatever the use case – intelligent lead prospecting, next-best-product offer, price optimization, customer churn management, etc.—we can analyze massive volumes of data, make predictions, and generate recommendations to augment human agents or trigger automated processes.
By using C3 AI CRM powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Adobe Experience Cloud, our customers will be able to better anticipate their customers’ needs and deliver more satisfying customer experiences—more personalized, more efficient, more intelligent—while increasing revenue, profitability, and customer loyalty. This is the future of CRM.
Amit: Every organization has processes that can be improved quickly with the right kind of AI. Organizations that are finding the most value from AI have moved beyond pilots to scale AI across their entire organization and are using AI to find new ways to work smarter and drive efficiencies to increasing cost pressures. Joint customers can transform sales, marketing, and customer experiences with a new AI-native technology stack that brings together real-time customer profile, journey management, and experience delivery from Adobe, sales intelligence, and insight from Dynamics 365 CRM, as well as deep industry AI expertise from C3.ai. For example, in financial services, C3 AI can help with credit prospecting, churn management, and call center predictions. In manufacturing, use cases include dealer management and predictive maintenance and service. In the public sector, AI can be applied across case and process management, as well as citizen engagement, and can guide safety and sustainability practices within cities.
How does this partnership bring CXM value to brands?
Amit: Across every industry, whether it’s business-to-business or business-to-consumer, people aren’t just buying products. They’re buying experiences. Consumers today have more avenues than ever before to engage and interact with brands and they expect personalized experiences across every touchpoint. However, brands are struggling to deliver these experiences. Data, such as purchase history, used to craft a bespoke customer experience has many owners within an organization, creating an incomplete view of each customer, and, ultimately, an underwhelming experience. Winning brands must be able to capture, analyze, and act on everything they know about their customers in real time in order to deliver the best experience possible. Adobe brings leadership in CXM with Adobe Experience Cloud, the end-to-end solution for experience creation, marketing, advertising, analytics, and commerce. And by bringing together Adobe’s leadership with C3.ai’s deep AI expertise and Microsoft’s CRM platform, we’re delivering a new caliber of customer engagement.
How are ISVs like C3.ai partnering with Microsoft and Adobe?
Alysa: Microsoft attracts ISVs of all shapes and sizes to build on and extend the Microsoft cloud with industry-specific line-of-business applications. Unlike other business application platforms, Microsoft eliminates the traditional silos of ERP and CRM and empowers ISVs to build without limitation. With our Business Applications ISV Connect Program, ISVs like C3.ai can access go-to-market support and sales resources along with the technical foundation that allows them to build on the intelligent capabilities of the entire Microsoft cloud.