Sunday 9 July 2023

Salesforce World Tour London : AI Day

AI Day London

A steampunk image of a machine with a brain.

Image created using Stable Diffusion 2.1

It's been just over a week since Salesforce World Tour : AI Day, and I'll wager less than two weeks since the events team found it it was going to be rebranded AI Day! Kudos to them though, it was seamless and if you weren't following the tech news you'd never have guessed!

Those of us attending the UK event experienced great timing this year. The fact that it happened a few weeks after the launch of AI Cloud in New York means that cutting edge features have just reached demo state well outside of the usual release cycle. For example, we got the first public demo of Prompt Studio, which is the kind of thing that would typically land at Dreamforce in San Francisco, rather than a World Tour event on the other side of the world. I'm also fairly sure that we wouldn't have been treated to a deep dive in machine learning from Patrick Stokes if he wasn't leading the AI technical charge. 

Spare a thought for the poor execs who are suddenly having to trip out a lot more than usual at this time of year, but if you want to position yourself as a leader in the AI space, you need some representation from Head Office. Bad news for them, but good news for us.

Prompt Studio looks good from what we saw in a short demo in a keynote. As expected, Salesforce are taking a cautious approach with guardrails around not just the AI, but who can create the prompts that drive the AI. There's some chatter on the socials that every admin is now a prompt engineer, but that feels like a simplistic view to me. Marketing and Legal are a couple of departments that will be very interested in contributing to and signing off prompts, rather than viewing it as regular configuration. Any admin who does become a prompt engineer could be looking at a rather lucrative career though, as that role is currently paying up to $335k/year, although it isn't expected to be around that long.

We also saw several other demos of GPT-as-an-Assistant across Sales, Service, Slack and Platform. This last one was particularly interesting for me, covering as it did automatic generation of Apex code from descriptive comments. This represents a significant change for us developers from the usual enhancements on the development side - typically we are keen to learn the detail of the new features so that we can start customising Salesforce with them. With GPT it's closer to handing off our work to a junior colleague - explaining what we want, waiting for it to appear and then reviewing it to see how well it matches our requirements. And, if history is anything to go by, realising that there was a whole layer of complexity that we forgot to mention!

One constant attendee at the London events is Kavindra Patel, VP of Trailblazer Engagement at Salesforce. I always try to catch up with him, and this year was no different. In a shocking turn of events, he let me in on the secret that there's quite a focus on AI at Salesforce right now!

And, of course, we had the Golden Hoodie award. This year it went to my fellow MVP and co-organiser of the London Salesforce Developer group, Todd Halfpenny, seen here preparing for a duel with Zahra Bahrololoumi CBE, CEO of Salesforce UK&I.

You can catch up with the World Tour keynote, and various other sessions, on Salesforce+. If you weren't able to attend in person I'd highly recommend it, as it is a good overview of where Salesforce will be in a few months once it's all built out. If you are interested in AI in general or AI Cloud in particular, but not sure where to start, join me on 19th July when I'll be doling out advice about preparing for the rise of the machines. 

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