Twilio is bringing generative AI to its Customer Data Platform (CDP) in a bid to use first party data and large language models to predict customer behavior and spur engagement. Twilio is also adding Databricks' Zero Copy architecture to CDP.

The news, announced at Twilio's Signal conference, is part of a broader push under a product strategy called CustomerAI. The game plan is to use generative AI to activate engagement for Twilio Engage, Flex and Segment as well as to provide an AI-powered CDP that can enhance profiles and personalize in real-time. What Twilio is really after is a flywheel that can provide "precise 1:1 personalization" with data and signals from every customer engagement and interaction.

CEO Jeff Lawson said "the real value unlock for AI will be pairing large language models with first party data sets."

Among the key announcements from Twilio:

  • Segment B2B Edition and Zero Copy Architecture. Twilio launched Segment B2B Edition with Linked Profiles to connect relationships across all customer data. With the new edition, Segment will use Linked Profiles to enable customers to build a graph of relationships that link events, experiences and profiles with data sets that include accounts, subscriptions, products, household and other data sets. With the expanded data graph, enterprises can train AI models, build advanced segmentation and provide personalized recommendations.
  • Zero Copy Architecture, which is part of a partnership with Databricks to allow customers to query data warehouse and data lake data directly without copying and Extract Transform and Load. Zero Copy from Databricks will allow Twilio's CDP to ingest data in new pathways. Twilio Engage and Twilio Flex will be able to onboard customer data. Databricks launches Lakehouse Apps, aims to be development platform
  • Predictions and Voice Intelligence. Twilio Predictions aims to give marketers predictive AI without technical expertise. Predictions is powered by Segment data. Voice Intelligence deploys conversational speech recommendations to deliver insights using natural language understanding. Twilio also said that its Virtual Agent with Google Dialogflow CX is generally available.
  • Generative AI tools in Twilio Engage, Flex and Segment. Twilio Engage will get Generative Email Design to complement existing AI-powered features. Generative Journeys spins up customer journeys based on campaign type. Twilio Flex will get generative AI tools with Google Cloud that can provide recommendations for next best actions for contact center agents.

Twilio's Signal news landed a few days after the company’s second quarter earnings. Twilio reported revenue of $1.04 billion, up 10% from a year ago, with a net loss of 91 cents a share. Non-GAAP earnings were 54 cents a share. Twilio ended the quarter with 304,000 active customer accounts.

Lawson on the earnings call said customers were still in learning mode with generative AI. He said:

"Customers are still very much in a learning mode and planning for the future mode, but not necessarily in deploying things actively most. And so, I think it's a really constructive conversation.

When I look at CustomerAI and what we can do with artificial intelligence, I think this is the glue that brings together Segment and Twilio communications into this one, customer engagement platform that we've been talking about for quite a while.

And I think AI is arriving even sooner than we thought in terms of generative AI to be able to bring a lot of those benefits to the table."

Constellation Research's take

Constellation Research analyst Andy Thurai said:

"Twilio is trying to combine LLMs with proprietary data about their customers. While Twilio had the customer data platform (CDP) before, using that data and LLM to predict customer behavior using AI is a new addition. The addition of Zero Copy Architecture in collaboration with Databricks is compelling. While Twilio CDP can offer customer information, it may not be always up to date. With this initiative, Twilio aims to query data lakes, in real-time, to get additional information to enrich their CDP data without ETL. Twilio has a good partner with Databricks.

The graph connection of Linked Profiles is also interesting. It can potentially unearth certain events and make meaningful personalized marketing messages and/or offers that might be timely and potentially appealing. While these are all good additions and appealing, it is hard to move the needle in the CDP, CRM, and marketing tooling category as the competition is very high. Twilio took a good step in the right direction, but competitors are doing the same or better things already."