Last year at Dreamforce, Salesforce’s massive user conference that takes over San Francisco each year, company chairman and CEO Marc Benioff declared that his company was about to disrupt the analytics market. 

“Just as we disrupted the CRM industry 15 years ago,” he said, Salesforce was going to disrupt analytics. The disruption, we learned was Wave, Salesforce’s sixth cloud.

Benioff’s statement was bold considering it was made at a time when the idea of big data being the new oil had already become cliché.

Salesforce had missed the analytics era — or, at the very least, was late to the game. That’s what some thought. 

But Hold On Now

Benioff and his team weren’t trying to borrow a play from Alan Turing’s book.

Its disruption is of a more populous nature in which Wave does the heavy data analytics lifting and sales managers and marketers are left to make decisions and take actions based on real time versus historical data, via any device. 

What’s disruptive? Eliminating the barriers between data, insights and action.

Connecting Business Insights to Actions

Later today Salesforce will introduce the next Wave of Analytics Cloud innovations in which insights and business actions are connected.

“The technology gets out of the way,” said Anna Rosenman, director of product marketing at

Salesforce analytics

Take, for example, the case of a sales manager who goes to sleep one night thinking everything’s hunky dory, that her team’s quota for the quarter will be easily met.

By the time she checks her group’s pipeline status from her phone the next morning,  she sees that two major sales will no longer close on time.

She then quickly looks through her team’s deals, drilling down by opportunity size, by progress, by state, by sales person, and where other nearby possibilities lie. Closing at this point in time will require face-to-face meetings.

Once she identifies the strong opportunities and the reps involved, she sends out e-mails, directly from her app. “We’re going to Texas,” she writes something like that, and then goes to pack, never finding a need to move between apps-it’s seamless.

See What We're Talking About

Trying to load and then make sense of the data in 32 tabbed spreadsheets is no easy task, let alone exploring the data within them.

It’s difficult,  time consuming, cumbersome. Moments of opportunity can pass before insights are gleaned…looking at pictures is better.

Yet some BI tools have steep learning curves. 

“They separate users from the insights they need,” said Rosenman.

That, of course, is a problem that Salesforce set out to fix for its users.

Wave visualizations can now power every data exploration experience across the Salesforce Customer Experience platform — enabling free-form navigation to analyze patterns and to discover insights and trends from anywhere.

Partners Speed Wave Innovations with Apps

While Salesforce is now building solutions for specified vertical markets, more than 80 vendors have  joined its partner ecosystem to extend the power of Salesforce analytics to a greater number and variety of business needs. FinancialForce, for example, analyzes financial and supply chain data, Vlocity Communications Cloud Analytics helps companies reduce customer churn.

Almost regardless of what anyone says, working with, and relying on, analytics has its challenges. It’s not unheard of for managers to change the question they ask of their data because getting the answer to their original query is too hard or cumbersome.

But as Rosenman told me, “That kind of defeats the purpose”. 

It’s hard to disagree. 

Needless to say, choosing products and services with your skill set in mind is a good idea.