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Business News/ Companies / People/  Dispelling AI Misconceptions: Insights from Salesforce India
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Dispelling AI Misconceptions: Insights from Salesforce India

Amidst India's socio-economic challenges, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and CEO of Salesforce India sees AI as a potent tool for catalyzing positive change. Catch the full Mint interview:

Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and CEO of Salesforce India in talks with Mint's Satish JohnPremium
Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and CEO of Salesforce India in talks with Mint's Satish John

The recent launch of GPT-4o ("o" for “omni") has wow-ed everyone with its seamless human-computer interaction. It can solve math problems, translate languages in real-time, and even answer your queries—all in a human voice with emotions. Within hours of the launch, the shares of Duolingo, the popular language EdTech platform, crashed 26% perceiving GPT-4o as potential threat.

Fearing AI is common. Many believe that it will become so advanced and efficient that hiring humans will simply be too expensive, eventually leading to mass unemployment.

Over the past year, it has become clear that artificial intelligence (AI) is among the biggest causes of disruption for businesses. AI promises to bring efficiencies and speed, but there are concerns about bias and the ethics of AI. In a candid conversation on Mint’s new video series All About AI, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and CEO of Salesforce India, dispels these fears and discusses how she is bridging the generation gap and making Salesforce a Great Place to Work.

Forging Unity and Vision

“When I came in, there were disparate groups—sales and distribution, technology and products, support and success. Each group had its leaders, but nobody was bringing them together to create one Salesforce vision and ensure that each group developed the Salesforce DNA," Arundhati reflects on the time she assumed the mantle in April 2020.

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She underscored Salesforce's values-driven approach, highlighting the significance of Trust, Customer Success, Innovation, Equality, and Sustainability. Arundhati's tenure has seen Salesforce India climb the ranks from 36 to now standing proudly as the fourth-best workplace according to Great Places to Work.

Navigating AI Skepticism

Advancements in artificial intelligence are profoundly shaping various industries, with a significant impact on the future of humanity. According to Frost & Sullivan's Global State of AI, 2022" report, 87% of organizations see AI and machine learning as catalysts for revenue growth, operational efficiency enhancement, and better customer experiences.

Also, as per a 2023 survey by IBM, 42% of large-scale businesses have already integrated AI into their operations, and another 40% are contemplating doing so. Furthermore, 38% of organizations have adopted generative AI in their workflows, with an additional 42% considering its implementation.

Despite the excitement surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI), many people are skeptical about its benefits. Arundhati provides insightful views on addressing this skepticism and using AI to improve society.

In a world where many worry about losing jobs and facing ethical dilemmas due to AI, Arundhati suggests staying balanced. She points out that every significant technological change in the past has sparked similar fears. Arundhati argues that AI won't necessarily lead to massive unemployment considering humanity's ability to adapt and bounce back from such changes, as is evident from the history of evolution.

Amidst India's socio-economic challenges, Arundhati sees AI as a potent tool for catalyzing positive change. “The only solution is technology," she asserts, citing examples like the Prime Minister's Jan Dhan Yojana, where AI-enabled solutions facilitated broader financial inclusion. “Similarly, AI can greatly improve services, like in state hospitals where doctors are overworked. AI can gather patient symptoms and present an initial diagnosis, allowing doctors to focus on more critical aspects. The technology is also being used to check sales conversations for accuracy in insurance, ensuring compliance and reducing mis-selling," Arundhati elaborates.

Driving Productivity through AI Integration

Improving productivity in India is a pressing issue. AI has the potential to bridge this gap effectively. However, the term “AI" is often overused and misunderstood. People need to approach AI initiatives with intentionality and focus.

First, determine the use cases for AI, such as improving productivity, gaining customer mindshare, or enhancing customer experience. Once that is clear, ensure your organization is structured to provide the right inputs for AI, which involves having a robust data strategy. Tools like Data Cloud can help by integrating various data sources without copying the data and extracting intelligence from them. Lastly, securing buy-in from employees is crucial for successful AI implementation. If employees are apprehensive, it can impede progress. Addressing their concerns, communicating the potential risks, and aligning everyone toward the same goal is essential.

Securing the Future: Addressing AI Security Concerns

As AI technologies advance, so do concerns about their security and potential misuse. Threat actors can exploit sophisticated AI tools intended for positive purposes to carry out scams and fraud. As your business relies more on AI, it's vital to recognize and protect against these security risks.

These risks include data manipulation, automated malware, and abuse through impersonation and hallucination. To tackle AI security challenges, consider prioritizing cybersecurity measures for AI systems.

Salesforce makes substantial investments in cybersecurity daily to stay ahead of potential threats. “We use third-party infrastructure with additional security layers on top. Public cloud infrastructure provides multiple layers of security, much like a compound with perimeter, building, and apartment security," Arundhati marks.

Empowering the Next Generation Workforce and Fostering Innovation

Transitioning from her previous role as Chairperson of the State Bank of India to leading Salesforce India, Arundhati acknowledges the generational shift in the workforce dynamics. She emphasizes the importance of understanding and catering to a younger workforce's evolving needs and aspirations, emphasizing engagement and fulfillment beyond monetary incentives.

“Salesforce has a strong giving policy called one by one by one, where we give 1% of our profit, products, and time to the nonprofit sector. This resonates with the younger workforce, making them feel engaged and fulfilled."

Through a dedicated startup program, Salesforce fosters a collaborative ecosystem where startups can leverage resources, tools, and connections to thrive and succeed.

Arundhati's stewardship of Salesforce India epitomizes a transformative leadership approach anchored in values, innovation, and community empowerment. Under her leadership, Salesforce India continues to chart a course toward sustainable growth and inclusive prosperity, poised to redefine the paradigm of corporate success in the digital age.

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Published: 18 May 2024, 10:36 AM IST
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