These days, everyone is pushing for advanced BI tools. The problem is, not many companies have the necessary capabilities or a full understanding of how to properly mine their data to leverage exactly what they need. Be it intuitive information accessed internally for sales or an immediate need to mine data on-the-go for a customer or prospect, self-service insight from analytics has always been seen good in theory. Unfortunately, the reality is that it is usually a cumbersome process that requires the (oftentimes unavailable) resources of IT or expert analysts.
As a recent McKinsey Global Institute report showed, decisions based on data-driven insights have a 23 times greater likelihood of customer acquisition, six times greater likelihood of customer retention, and 19 times greater likelihood of profitability. As more and more organizations recognize the importance of business intelligence to compete and grow, budgets must also increasingly be able to find room for next-level analytics. And as they do, we have seen more and more companies ride the BI wave and offer their own solutions. Of course, some are more qualified to do so than others. But all the big names in BI are represented in some capacity. But up until recently, the 800 pound gorilla in the CRM industry was notably absent from the conversation—until now.
At Dreamforce 2014, Salesforce announced the Wave Analytics cloud to considerable fanfare and hype. So how did they do? I see a handful of good things and question marks surrounding Wave:
PLUS SIGN: With more than a 16% market share, anytime the world’s largest CRM releases a new platform, we should all take notice. And with such big hitters in the industry as Equinix, GE Capital, and TriCore Reference Laboratories already on board, it is probably with good reason.
QUESTION MARK: These companies are clearly big. And as such, they have the luxury to partner immediately. But the reality is, every business needs a cloud analytics platform that is fast, scalable, and easy to use to be successful.
PLUS SIGN: Wave claims to be designed with every business user in mind, not just analysts. With schema-free architecture, conceivably everyone across an organization can access easily digestible data in one single-source dashboard of choice.
QUESTION MARK: Of course, Wave is seamlessly integrated with all Salesforce platforms, but the jury still seems to be out on whether their integration expert partners can do the same on other systems.
PLUS SIGN: Wave does pull in data sets from third party applications however, allowing users to take a more strategic approach when analyzing information and data correlations from multiple sources.
QUESTION MARK: Unfortunately, as it currently stands, it can only help identify a problem and present relevant data, not offer an actual solution. There, we’re still seemingly on our own.
PLUS SIGN: The good news is Wave was built for mobile first, meaning it is easily adaptable on any and all devices, wherever users may be.
QUESTION MARK: The mobile rollout seems to be a second priority at the moment and is relatively untested.
PLUS SIGN: Name recognition and information security from a trusted brand is always a plus.
QUESTION MARK: Being late to the game, companies may already have loyalty and trust established with a current analytics partner.
PLUS SIGN: Out-of-the-box deployment, with intuitive and dynamic visualizations that instantly give the information businesses need – and fast.
So what does it all mean? Surveys show that nearly 70% of global businesses were expected to be using data analytics by the end of 2013. And as we approach the end of 2014, simple logic says that number could only have grown. So with the addition of Wave to Salesforce’s ever-expanding software suite, smart businesses should be asking some important questions:
- How directly linked are their current analytics solution to sales efficiency and effectiveness?
- How quickly and easily can their data be accessed and analyzed?
- How much time is lost from current cumbersome processes?
- How important is the (immediate) sharing of data with all relevant parties?
- How central does price play in the overall selection of an analytics solution?
One other important takeaway we should all understand is that there is a reason Salesforce took so long to introduce their cloud-based BI solution: they wanted to get it right. After years of accumulating the necessary talent, acquiring innovative companies like EdgeSpring, and gathering their own data regarding what users want most from their big data, Salesforce wanted to make sure what they offered was able to stand as its own piece of the now six-part stack that it is building (Sales, Service, Marketing, Community and Platform / Apps being the others).
And while many companies will probably take the wait-and-see approach to Wave, I would venture to guess that by 2016 the vast majority of medium and large companies will be using Wave (and Salesforce1, for that matter). The impact on sales productivity will be simply too tempting to ignore. After all, it’s better to ride a wave than get smacked by the one your competitor is creating.