When Salesforce launched Wave, its Analytics Cloud late last year, there was something big missing —namely its ability to deliver insights gleaned from big data.
While to some Salesforce customers that was acceptable, given that they had had almost no analytics capabilities a day earlier, others felt a gap into which large volumes of variable data was flowing at high velocity and wasting away because it wasn’t being processed or analyzed.
In a world where leveraging big data can separate winners from losers, both Salesforce and its customers were missing opportunities.
The Right Partners
But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore — at least if Salesforce and its big data crushing partners can deliver on their promises to bring the right slivers of processed big data to Salesforce’s Analytics Cloud. It’s a big challenge, but there are some shrewd players involved; namely Cloudera, Google, Hortonworks, Informatica, New Relic and Trifacta.
“Now customers will be able to take any kind of data they can get their hands on, crunch it (with Hadoop) and bring it into Salesforce,” said Clarke Patterson, senior director of product marketing, at Cloudera.
That could be clickstream data, log data, Internet of Things (IoT) data, government data, Salesforce data and more… And while Salesforce can’t analyze all of this data on its own, it can grab just the right slice via a Java connector, according to Keith Bigelow, senior vice president and general manager, Salesforce Analytics Cloud.
The returns that the partnerships would generate could create possibilities for new value and not just value-add. “With Hadoop there’s an opportunity to integrate channels, rendering a true omnichannel experiences,” said Cuneyt Buyukbezci, senior director of product marketing, Hortonworks.
If a retailer is looking to present exactly the right product, to the right customer at the right time, via the right channel, on the right device, it could do so with more information, said Bigelow, which might include that the selected product is actually in stock, explained Bigelow.
Not just that, but data from application monitoring powerhouse New Relic could be fed into Wave to provide insight to marketers as to how customers are using their websites or to alert customer service agents when consumers are having bad experiences.
And in cases where the end user is a corporate user such as a marketing manager who needs to make decisions on-the-go, big data analytics can be delivered to a mobile device.
IT Not Required?
But it may not be quite as simple as it seems because a Cloudera, Google or Hortonworks big data-crush might require the intervention of data scientists and/or IT before it is brought into Salesforce. Unless vendors like Informatica or Trifacta are brought into the picture, that is.
“Typically, a business analyst relies on IT to prepare data for analysis. With Trifacta, an analyst is able to discover, structure, cleanse and enrich the data themselves before exporting it directly to the Salesforce Analytics Cloud where it can be blended with customer data in Salesforce for analysis by Wave,” said Fergus Moroney, head of Business Development at Trifacta
Though the actual impact of Salesforce’s partnership with big data vendors has yet to be seen, one huge accomplishment is already on the books.
“To bring these competitors to the table is a major feat by the Salesforce team,” said Holger Mueller, Principal Analyst and Vice President at Constellation Research. He added that Salesforce’s vision is right. “Giving business people more information in the right form and the right time is a key trend,” he said.
But whether Salesforce’s approach is on the money has yet to be seen according to Mueller. He questioned whether the extraction path is the right one. Bigelow said that slices of processed big data sets would be uploaded to Wave twenty times per day, or approximately every hour.
“Business could accelerate to the point that even hourly updates are no longer fast enough,” said Mueller.
The announcement holds the potential to be big deal for Salesforce’s new big data partners. If all goes as promised, they’ll have powerful, revenue generating business cases to point to when they look to sell services to new customers or expand their footprint at those they already have. This at a time when analyst Gartner said the Hadoop market is waning.
There’s also the buzz around the value of Hadoop that Salesforce is creating, it comes at a good time.
But at the end of the day, it’s the customer that counts.
“What we need now is to learn more about delivery dates and the fine-grained details to assess the real value that Salesforce brings to its customers with this wide partnership announcement, said Mueller.