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Salesforce’s AI push, cash for Horizon Post Office scandal victims – September 2023 in review

Cloud CRM giant goes all in on automation as the UK government addresses major miscarriage of justice.

By Matthew Gooding

The AI revolution continued at full pace in September, with one of enterprise IT’s biggest names making its pitch for relevance.

Tech Monitor touched down bleary-eyed in San Francisco in early September, joining 40,000 other delegates for Dreamforce, the annual celebration of all things Salesforce.

California dreamin’ with Salesforce at Dreamforce 2023. (Photo by Jakub Mosur Photography)

As usual, the conference agenda was packed with special appearances from founder Marc Benioff’s celebrity pals, but amid the fun and games – and furry mascots – Salesforce was getting down to the serious business of positioning itself as the trusted face of enterprise AI.

It used the event to launch Einstein 1, an AI-infused platform which it says will give its clients the ability to safely connect any data to build AI-powered apps with low code and deliver new CRM experiences. Benioff extolled the virtues of the system’s trust layer, which masks data before it is sent to be used by a large language AI model for processing, then returns and unmasks it.

Functions like this, Benioff said, will be necessary to help convince CIOs they should trust AI. Despite much enthusiasm from vendors, many businesses have yet to implement the technology because of worries over security and data protection. “We’re not looking at your data, your data is not our product,” Benioff told delegates. “We’re here to make you better, more productive and more successful.”

It’s been a tricky year for Salesforce, which in January announced it would be making 10% of staff redundant. This news followed the departure of co-CEO Bret Taylor and a round of musical chairs in the company’s C-Suite. Benioff will be hoping the renewed focus on AI will help provide the basis for a more positive 2024.

£600k pay outs for Horizon Post Office IT scandal victims

The UK government has announced it would pay £600,000 to each victim of the Horizon IT scandal, which saw hundreds of Post Office workers wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting because of misfunctioning software.

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The incident, one of the biggest miscarriage of justices in UK history, saw more than 700 Post Office staff prosecuted between 1999–2015 because of errors in the Horizon software, which was used by the Post Office for accountancy services. So far, 86 convictions have been overturned, with more than £21m paid in compensation to these victims.

Those impacted were offered £100,000 interim payments by the government in 2021, which were increased to £163,000 a year later. In September, the Department for Business and Trade said it would now offer each of those whose conviction has been overturned because it relied on Horizon evidence a total of £600,000, topping up payments already awarded and handing a fresh award to anyone who has yet to claim.

Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “This is about righting a wrong and providing some form of relief to those wrongfully caught up in this scandal.

More from September 2023

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