launches Wave, the ‘analytics cloud’

SAN FRANCISCO — opened its annual Dreamforce conference on Monday by announcing a new product that capitalizes on the analytics software acquisitions it’s made in the past 14 months.

Wave is Salesforce’s analytics cloud, a big data engine paired with a visual, user-friendly interface that can intake all the data companies store in Salesforce applications, plus external sources. Those sources can include unstructured data such as social media posts, details about mobile devices, or even data generated by wearable technology. The pitch from Salesforce on the product – this is analytics designed to be used by all business professionals.

“Data is trapped in legacy systems and isn’t available to the sales reps and marketers on the front lines,” said Stephanie Buscemi, senior vice president of the Salesforce analytics cloud. “What if analytics was completely reinvented for the rest of us?”

Salesforce is already working with more than 30 different partners on delivering Wave to customers, including Accenture, Deloitte, Informatica, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The platform is native integrated with Salesforce1, using the same user sign-on credentials. It is also an open data architecture that allows admins to input external sources of data, including from legacy systems.

Salesforce Wave - dashboard
A dashboard designed in Salesforce Wave.

To design an easy-to-use interface, Salesforce took cues from popular games like Angry Birds and Farmville, she says. Because the tool is delivered over the web and accessible by smartphone or tablet, it was made with touch screens in mind.

Salesforce started building its analytics cloud last summer. It acquired relateIQ, a big data analytics platformed that offered relationship intelligence and relationship management for $390 million. Then, in the same week that Salesforce made its biggest acquisition ever with the $2.5 billion deal with ExactTarget, it also acquired EdgeSpring. At the time, a press release wasn’t even issued by Salesforce to announce the EdgeSpring deal – but a notice was put on the EdgeSpring website.

Salesforce Wave - mobile
Salesforce Wave is designed to be mobile friendly, accessed on the Salesforce1 platform.

EdgeSpring was the key piece that allowed Salesforce to bring the visual element needed to make big data palatable to a wider audience, says Ray Wang, the principal analyst at Constellation Research. Instantly generating a bar graph, pie chart, or scatter grid makes understanding the meaning behind data much easier than reading a spreadsheet.

While Salesforce has integrated some analytics capabilities into its CRM products in the past, Wave will unify analytics into one place.

“Customers have to go to so many places to pull data out of today,” he says. “What they want to do is access their data in real time.”

Salesforce Wave - bar graphs
Users can quickly switch between various visualization options to view a data set.

The analytics cloud brings the missing piece to this transaction platform, he says. The ability to answer questions about how top customers are behaving, what devices they are using, what their general sentiment is, and when to service them is powerful enough that a Wave is a product that could be useful to a company in just about any industry.

But it has competition. While Salesforce and Microsoft worked together earlier this year to integrate Salesforce into Office products, and even had a media conference call with respective CEOs Marc Benioff and Satya Nadella, Wave competes head on with Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM and its Power BI software.

Reports are designed with visually guided user interfaces in Salesforce Wave.
Reports are designed with visually guided user interfaces in Salesforce Wave.

“There’s nothing clear in an eco-system,” Wang says. “You offer customers a lot of choices and see what happens.

Salesforce didn’t release any pricing details for its new product.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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