Salesforce.com Introduces Conversational Queries

Salesforce.com today introduced Conversational Queries, a feature that leverages Einstein Analytics to allow users to, in effect, have conversations with their data. With Conversational Queries, users can simply type questions such as “show me top accounts by annual revenue” or “rank accounts decreasing by annual revenue and billing country, and the tool will return answers presented in automatically configured dynamic charts.

“Our goal with building this was to build a tool for everyone to explore and ask questions of their data and get an answer to their question the moment that they have it,” says Amruta Moktali, vice president of product management for Einstein Analytics. “What we have now is we’ve built this intuitive process which is basically naturally in line with how we know data, because we know what question we want to ask from the data, so the piece that was missing was how do we tell the system to show us what we want to see, and that’s where the Conversational Queries come into the picture.”

The process has two key components. First, users start with one or two common words, and Einstein Analytics offers suggestions that users can accept or edit as they type in a question. “The way a user will go ahead and do this is as simple as just typing in a phrase in the conversational interface,” Moktali says. “They don’t need to know the clicks, they don’t need to know how to build a query, they don’t need to know what kind of chart is needed.”

Once the question is asked, Einstein Analytics determines how the question relates to the available data and suggests the best way to visualize the answer. “We guide them through this process so that they can quickly get an answer to their question and in addition to that we will also go ahead and recommend the best visualization for the data because sometimes being able to understand data is easier when you have the right visualization behind it,” Moktali says.

The second component is a visual history of all questions asked during an exploration session. “The whole path that you’ve taken, the dialogue that you’ve had with your data, having that dialogue is very important, and that’s where the visual history comes into play, where you’re able to look and you have the whole narrative of your journey,” Moktali says.

Moktali adds that Conversational Queries can prove valuable to the collaborative process. “Most of the decisions nowadays are taken in collaboration with people,” she says. “And that is where taking contextual action—making it such that everyone now has the insight into your insight—that’s where all of this gets stitched together.”

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