November 17 by Kingman Tang
Recently I had the opportunity to present with Jack Borland at Wolters Kluwer in an Artificial Intelligence (AI) webinar. With over 20 years’ experience, Jack leads Sales Operations for Wolters Kluwer’s Legal and Regulatory division where he is responsible for developing technology strategies – specifically for their Salesforce and Apttus implementations. We discussed how to streamline and run a global sales operations organization leveraging machine learning and virtual assistants to increase sales efficiency, margins and revenue.
AI-Washing: Is Artificial Intelligence Real in the Enterprise?
There’s a lot of buzz about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the press and in the marketplace. Until now, much of this noise is coming from either a consumer standpoint or from platform & infrastructure providers (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Hadoop, Spark, OpenAI, etc.) Very few vendors (e.g. Salesforce, small start-ups) are talking about how AI is & can be applied in the B2B enterprise. However, not wanting to be left behind, more vendors have begun a discourse around AI, but that seems to be an “AI-washing” exercise.
To be clear, the question for AI is not what or why, but when will it infiltrate the enterprise. The following statistic is from a Harvard Business Review survey conducted in April, 2017.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
It’s worth backing up to ask: What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
AI is a broad reference that includes a set of methods, algorithms, and technologies that make underlying software capable of human-like behavior. It is an umbrella term in which machine learning (a class of algorithms that learn from and make predictions on data) and natural language processing (NLP) both fit under.
At Apttus, we are applying AI to critical B2B enterprise processes, ushering in game-changing innovations that mirror the AI transformation in the consumer world. With a virtual assistant that leverages natural language processing and machine learning, we target key Quote-to-Cash (QTC) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) processes, including: Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ), Contract Renewals, Contract Lifecycle Management, Revenue Management, E-Commerce, and Sales Force Automation. In short, Apttus is making AI practical for enterprise business processes.
Driving AI for Sales Operations at Wolters Kluwer
So, what does that look like for Jack Borland in Sales Operations at Wolters Kluwer? Let’s provide some context and background for the Wolters Kluwer’s journey with AI. A few things to note: they have a very large product catalog; a large amount of historical contract data; and they are primarily a subscription business.
As a starting point, Jack and his team are helping sales reps find appropriate products to cross-sell. The benefits are to move the needle on top line growth for the organization and to help sales reps gain efficiency. After all, no sales rep has ever complained about having too much face time with their prospect or customer.
Their outcomes to date:
• Initial feedback indicated Applied AI saves time, provides valid recommendations.
• Winner of the Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory Enterprise Achievement and Excellence in Action Award for Q1 2017.
• Built a foundation for account planning strategic initiatives.