One of the big myths around business analytics, at this point in time, is that it's democratized. That the average business user can grab a dataset, ask questions around it, and glean the insights needed to take informed action on the spur of the moment, regardless of where they are and what kind of screen they‘re staring at.
The next time someone tells you this, say “show me.” Odds are that you’ll discover that when they say “average,” it doesn’t include most of us. And that “democratized” refers to a wider variety of data workers, meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be data scientists, statistical whizzes or know how to work with R, but it’s a pretty good bet that terms like “data profiling,” "data modeling” and Analytics will show up on their resumes more often than “exceeded quota.”
The Land of Broken Promises
What’s the big deal? Quite frankly it suggests that the line of business worker who needs to make a data informed decision won’t have the information he or she needs to do so, in short order, or without assistance. Instead she'll have to make a request and wait for someone to provide it.
And while once upon time, back when the world was less digital, that may not have been that big of a disadvantage, today it is. Business is done in real time and data is the new currency. The companies who thrive today will be those who leverage information best, which means that the power needs to be in the hands of the salesperson, the marketer, the customer service provider and so on.
So the next time someone pitches you a consumer-like, user friendly BI solution, ask for a demo. After all, "BI is the land of broken promises,” as Anna Rosenman, director of product marketing at Salesforce.com, told us yesterday.
While that may be true, living in a problem isn’t the fix. Building a solution is.
Analytics On the Go
And that’s what Salesforce Analytics Cloud, powered by the Wave platform, aims to be. “It’s easy to use, it makes sense to the business user, it’s built for mobile (two finger vs. ten finger typing and taps vs. point and click), for any data (structured, unstructured, semi-structured), locally understood (meaning that it comes in different languages) and easy to share,” said Rosenman.
It’s worth noting that it was built to work with Salesforce’s S1 Cloud, but can be used without it. If you’re interested, you can explore its new desktop playground here.
Initially unveiled at DreamForce, three significant new features will be added to the Salesforce Analytics Cloud in March.
Wave Mobile Connector: Users can import a raw data file, such as a CSV file, into the Analytics Cloud mobile app, transforming it into interactive visualizations that can be explored instantly -- directly on their phone. In the demo it seemed intuitive; the experience was consumer-like, though the data was deep.
Wave Mobile Dashboard Designer: One of the beauties of the Salesforce Analytics Cloud and the Wave platform is that they are new and built for the digital age in which new data sources like “likes” from Facebook aren’t an afterthought. The app allows users to create entire analytics dashboards using any data source, directly from their phone. With a few taps, a data set will be transformed into a variety of interconnected charts and graphs, each faceted together so they dynamically change as users interact with them.
Wave Links: For those who want or need to run their business from their phone and bring analytical data into the Salesforce1 Mobile App -- or any custom or partner app built on the Salesforce1 Platform -- this feature allows them to connect with specific data sets, charts or dashboards in the Analytics Cloud mobile app. This means that Salesforce Analytics Cloud users will be able to embed links into any Salesforce record or custom object that takes them to a specific visualization in the Analytics Cloud mobile app.
No More Frappuccino Breaks
A recent ComScore report revealed that 60 percent of all digital media is accessed via a mobile device. And it’s probably safe to assume that sales people, account executives and marketers are away from their desktops, more often than at them. Up until recently it was difficult, if not impossible, to access consumable analytics while on the go. Those who tried often ended up pulling over, walking into a hotel lobby or Starbucks, calling the office, powering up a laptop and waiting.
The Salesforce Analytics Cloud powered by Wave and accessed via a smartphone seems to be not only much less of a hassle, but also pioneering in that it puts analytics in the hands of line of business users. It could prove to be a very big deal.