A company in the CPQ (configure, price, quote) space last year announced an artificial intelligence feature for its solution. AI is a trend, and it’s always nice to be trendy, but as great as CPQ is, it’s still only one source of data.

Without sufficient data, AI is extremely limited. It’s like allowing your toddler to learn only about colors: The kid might be a whiz with colors, all right, but without context — in other words, more data — that information won’t make any sense.

This is the scary, behind-the-curtain aspect of AI: We’re still in a world where the systems depend on us humans to ensure they’re getting the data they need to deliver good results.

AI can’t tell humans, “You need to give me this information, too!” They can’t say, “I could be more effective if you’d just allow me to compare what I come up with against commissions data for a historical reality check.”

People need to come to these realizations to make them happen — and unfortunately, when it comes to these kinds of things, our species is always the weak link.

There were numerous sessions about AI at last month’s CRM Evolution conference. Some things are still very much up for debate — even the very definition of “artificial intelligence” was the subject of some heated discussion. The promise is clearly there. However, the one variable that’s impossible to predict is the human element, especially in relation to technology.

AI for sales often is positioned as a panacea — something that will deliver results instantly and make life better for all involved. There are no panaceas, though. There’s nothing that works instantly. AI will change the game for sales — eventually — but that depends on three things happening.

The Right Data

First, the company’s staff will need to sit down and understand what they need to do to ensure their AI solutions learn the right things. That means analyzing the data they generate and understanding its value in the sales decision-making process.

Integrating disparate data sets is the first step; making decisions about different data’s…