Every person is unique. We all experience the world through our own subjective lens. But when it comes to user-experience design, most companies choose a one-size-fits-all approach. Salesforce, best known for its customer-relationship management platform, is hoping to change that. The company is using artificial intelligence to deliver personalized digital experiences and build customer relationships by design. It’s this type of program that earned Salesforce a spot on Fast Company ‘s list of Innovation by Design award winners.

Salesforce’s goal was to bring automation into a design process that is traditionally very labor-intensive. “If you were to personalize design today, it would take a designer, developer, and data scientist a month of work,” says Sönke Rohde, vice president of Salesforce’s UX R&D team. “That’s why we looked at the intersection of user experience and artificial intelligence to find out if we could cut that time down to minutes by automating parts of the process and generating personalized design at scale.”

The result is Einstein Designer, which Salesforce unveiled in late 2019. The platform is powered by a tool the UX R&D team developed called Deep Learning UX, or DLUX (pronounced: deluxe). The AI tool learns a brand’s design system-from its preferred color palette to typefaces and font sizes-and generates design variations within the brand’s style.

Those variations can also be tailored to better connect with individual users. Two users shopping for sneakers, for example, could visit the same website and see two different displays. A shopper motivated by bargains might see a page emphasizing price, while a shopper who’s inspired by reviews will see a page high­lighting ratings.

AI-generated design can result in a better experience for customers and more efficiency for companies. Einstein Designer lets businesses strengthen relationships with customers by personalizing each customer’s digital experience and lets designers put their creative energies toward more rewarding work. “There are so many repetitive tasks designers are doing manually,” Rohde says. “If we automate them, it frees them up to address complex challenges and take better advantage of their skills. Our goal is to enable more data-driven design and help elevate the profession.”

CULTIVATING A CULTURE OF TRUST

Salesforce’s culture is central to fueling employees’ innovative ideas and encouraging them to experiment. “Trust is our number-one value,” Rohde says. “When it comes to innovation, that value means we have permission to fail. That gives us the safety net to really push the boundaries when it comes to new, innovative ideas.”

if we don’t disrupt ourselves, then our competition will do it for us.”

Internal transparency is also key to the creative success. Salesforce hosts events where teams share details about their projects, which can help bridge gaps between co-workers and teams in different areas of the company. “When you can see people in other departments doing interesting, related work, it sparks new ideas and inspires more collaboration.”

Rohde adds that keeping an organization of 50,000 employees asking questions, dreaming up solutions, and creating brand-new tools requires an explorative attitude. “We have this notion that if we don’t disrupt ourselves, then our competition will do it for us,” he says. “So, we’re working closely with our customers to strengthen relationships with their customers and co-create the future of product experiences.”

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