In what could be called a meeting of artificially intelligent minds, a new partnership will combine IBM's cognitive computing platform Watson with Salesforce's Einstein artificial intelligence (AI) for customer relationship management (CRM).

Announced yesterday, the partnership will integrate Watson's application program interfaces (APIs) into Salesforce's cloud-based CRM software to work in concert with the Einstein AI. The predictive analytics enabled by both platforms will help business users make smarter, faster decisions, according to IBM and Salesforce.

Applying AI to data about shopping patterns, industry trends, weather forecasts and customer preferences, for instance, could allow a retailer to send automated yet personalized emails to potential shoppers near a single store. The integrated IBM/Salesforce systems could also enable financial advisors to provide customers with better guidance based on likely economic impacts to their particular investments and risks.

New Weather Insights, Image Recognition

In addition to the Watson/Einstein integration, IBM and Salesforce said they will also work together in a new consulting practice to help businesses deploy those platforms, and will use data from The Weather Company, which is owned by IBM, to provide customers with personalized information based on weather conditions and forecasts.

For instance, The Weather Company integration could help insurance companies generate safety and policy alerts for clients likely to be affected by severe weather.

Salesforce planned to provide more details about its partnership with IBM during "The Year of Einstein" live broadcast event today in San Francisco. In addition to announcing the general availability of Einstein AI across all of its spring product releases, Salesforce is also taking the wraps off Einstein Vision, a new set of APIs designed to infuse CRM applications with artificially intelligent image recognition.

AIso New: Einstein Vision

The new Einstein Vision capabilities can help businesses provide smarter services through visual searches, better product identification and brand detection-based marketing, Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher said today in a blog post.

"For example a leading retail and self-service wholesaler is using Einstein Vision's image recognition technology to improve their lead qualification process for its hotel, restaurant and catering division," Socher noted. "With Visual Search capabilities, the group's 50-person sales team determines which leads are most likely to buy digital hospitality tools by classifying restaurants' interior, menu and layout."

Meanwhile, IBM's new application integration suite for Salesforce is due for release by the end of this month. The Watson/Einstein integration, weather data integration and new consulting practice -- to be offered through the IBM company Bluewolf -- are set to become available in the second half of this year. IBM and Salesforce said they would provide more information about pricing for those new services when they launch.