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Don't Overlook These 2 Growth Drivers for

By Daniel Sparks – May 31, 2018 at 9:23AM

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Artificial intelligence and Salesforce's latest acquisition are morphing into key catalysts. (CRM -2.09%) crushed it again this quarter. Its record fiscal 2019 first-quarter results easily beat both management's guidance and analyst expectations for the period, featuring accelerated revenue growth, a $12 billion annual revenue run rate, and nearly $1.5 billion in operating cash flow. 

Of course, there's more to the quarter than Salesforce's rock-solid financial results. As the software-as-a-service customer relationship management company continues to grow, investors want to check on more than just its top- and bottom-line results and its cash flow. Two important areas worth keeping an eye on as Salesforce's business expands are its momentum in artificial intelligence and its recent acquisition of Mulesoft. Fortunately, management discussed both of these important aspects of the business during the company's first-quarter earnings call.

A diagram showing three laptops connected to a cloud

Image source: Getty Images.

AI is making life easier for businesses

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important to Salesforce as it continues to integrate its Einstein assistant (the AI component of Salesforce's platform) into its products. Indeed, CEO Marc Benioff put the spotlight on AI in the company's first-quarter press release when he said Einstein is now delivering nearly 2 billion predictions a day.

Chief product officer Bret Taylor discussed how AI, through its Einstein assistant, is adding value for its customers. "I think the reason why Einstein has gotten so much adoption and so much traction is because it's simple to use," explained Taylor. "The power of the Salesforce platform is you just turn it on."

Citing some examples, Taylor said it helps Commerce Cloud customers sort product listings, get better products to the right people at the right time, and ultimately drive more gross merchandise volume.

Taylor continued, "By making it easy to adopt and easy to use, our customers are actually seeing the value of AI without hiring a legion of data scientists, and that's really the promise of Einstein and really our philosophy behind building the AI for [customer relationship management], is our ability to make it easy for our customers to use and adopt and benefit from this revolution we're seeing in AI."

Why MuleSoft is so important to Salesforce

After closing its acquisition of MuleSoft earlier this month, Salesforce had quite a bit to say about the acquisition. With the acquisition of the information technology company slated to help Salesforce launch an entirely new cloud product called Integration Cloud, Benioff said the acquisition is already helping customers.

Taylor summed up MuleSoft's value proposition within its cloud offerings, noting it will be particularly useful when combined with its Einstein product:

And so, when you think of MuleSoft, think unlocking data. The data is trapped in all these isolated systems -- on-premises, private cloud, public cloud. And in MuleSoft, they can unlock this data and make it available to Einstein, and make a smarter customer-facing system. And that's what we're hoping to achieve with MuleSoft. ... So we like to say it unlocks the clock speed of innovation, and that's what we're really seeing from our customers. And I hope we'll accelerate our ambitions with Einstein.

When asked when Salesforce will be rolling out its integration cloud as a fully integrated cloud offering, Taylor said the company is going to focus on furthering the momentum MuleSoft already had for now. "MuleSoft has just incredible customer success, and so, we're looking to accelerate that with our amazing distribution team and all the deep customer relationships we've had," Taylor explained.

Einstein and MuleSoft both look poised to serve as key catalysts for Salesforce's business over the long haul.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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