October 16, 2014

Salesforce.com is Making “Waves” in BI and Analytics

The major news out of Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce Conference so far is the release of their cloud based analytics platform called “Wave”. Below is my quick and dirty recap on Salesforce.com’s latest attempt to break into the Business Intelligence and Analytics Space.

Pros

  • salesforceMobile – There is no doubt that mobile is the medium that every software provider wants to launch its next platform on. Releasing Wave as a mobile platform puts Salesforce ahead of several competitors that have struggled to make the transition.
  • Visualization – Wave’s visual aspects are very appealing. According to an article in InformationWeek, Keith Bigelow, General Manager of Big Data and Analytics, said “The user interface design was inspired by gaming interfaces.”, so you don’t need to worry about pixelated maps or bubble charts.
  • Fast – Based on a video provided by BusinessInsider, Wave’s performance speed is nearly instantaneous, making the ability to group and filter data appear effortless.

Cons

  • Mobile – Personally I see mobile as a pro and a con. I’m still not sold on the demand for analytics at the mobile level. Do executives really pull out an iPhone and start drilling into data in order to look at regional sales from last week on the go?
  • Salesforce Analytic Query Language (SAQL) – Salesforce has decided to use a custom language rather than the usual SQL that so many data warehousers and analysts are used to; their stated audience for SAQL will be “power users, developers, and Salesforce administrators”, which immediately impacts adoption because users need to learn a new language in order to use Wave.

After reading about the various capabilities of Wave and seeing the video posted by BusinessInsider, I have to say that I’m not completely sold on Wave’s potential for success in this space. With competitors like Tableau Software and Qlik already leading the market in categories such as ease of use and visualization of data, it is hard to imagine that a new competitor can waltz in and make an impact.

Wave has one advantage that many other platforms don’t have the luxury of: Salesforce.com has its foot in the door at many corporations around the world, making it easy to sell the new tool as a seamless package. The question that remains to be answered: will companies choose to use third party software, like Tableau, to analyze their Salesforce.com CRM data, or will they be lured into trying a new product in order to keep everything within Salesforce?