Last week Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff teased the company’s upcoming offering, Einstein. In the Forbes article Benioff is quoted as saying “If this is not the next big thing, I don’t know what is.”

This news comes at the end of a line of machine learning, predictive and other AI technology acquisitions by Salesforce, including RelateIQ, BeyondCore, and Quip. And Salesforce is not the only big player snapping up companies in this space. Last week, Microsoft bought AI-powered virtual assistant startup Genee. These acquisitions paint a picture of the changes taking place in the enterprise where globalization and consumerization of IT are driving a major shift in the way we work. Take this statement from Genee Co-founder Charles Lee:

“Business and personal lives are becoming increasingly intertwined and complex in today's world. But as technology has evolved, scheduling has not. We're faced with increasing challenges involving global workforces, different time zones and remote workers, and scheduling meetings has become a necessity but an increasingly time-consuming and laborious task. Add to that the ongoing challenge of conflicting availabilities across multiple calendaring systems, and scheduling events can be a tremendous drain on both time and resources."

Indeed, the writing has been on the wall for some time. Consumer tools have far outpaced traditional enterprise tools in terms of the development of features and functionality that make communicating easier, faster and more fun. This is why we’ve seen consumer tools slipping into the workplace.

A 2013 survey of 4,000 U.S. and U.K. office workers found that almost half of office workers store work documents on consumer cloud services, while 91 percent store, access, and share via personal devices. And this issue is not getting any better.

Today, your iPhone finishes your sentences, Facebook suggests who to invite to your next party and Google will tell you when to check into your flight. So why don't your work tools do the same?

When it comes to the realization of the fully networked enterprise, it’s no longer a question of if or even when -- the time is now.  And so while we do not yet know the details of Salesforce’s Einstein or how Office 365 will change in the year ahead, Benioff is correct -- predictive is the next big thing and will without a doubt be a big driver of change in the near future.

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