When Salesforce announced its Wave analytics platform with a splash at Dreamforce, it wasn't even available. Critics said it cost toomuch or that even after two years of development, it was too little too late.

Some analysts, like BorisEvelson at Forrester Research, praisedit for its "seamless integration" and agile NoSQL DBMS."But," he added in his blog, "while we feel that Wave is a coolproduct for specific use cases ... there's lot of room for improvement beforeWave can take its place among general purpose large enterprise BIplatforms."

"The UI is there, but can it really leverage big data? Does itmatter?," asked CMSWire writer VirginiaBackaitis. She quoted several industry sources who offered mixed reviews.

Quieter Launch


A quieter, formal launch came about two weeks later. Then big pilot clientslike GE Capital and EMCsigned up. And now at the 100-day mark, Salesforce officials claim Wave isgenerating strong interest among its existing customers.

Salesforce is planning its first product update in mid-February and isalready working on additional products to fill out its Analytics Cloud.

"We're on target. Our first 100 days have seen amazing customersuccess," said AnnaRosenman, director of product marketing for the Salesforce Analytics Cloud."We're two years and 100 days old and I think we've had tremendousmomentum."

While she wouldn't disclose how many new customers were signing up,she told CMSWire that there's a ripple effect going on. Forexample, GE Capital's success with the product drew the interest of GE Aviation,which is now an Analytics Cloud customer.

"Obviously, we had a lot of pilot customers close," said Rosenman."But we've also had customers like HoughtonMifflin Harcourt, the publisher of Curious George, sign up. All they saw wasa demo and they said 'This is great'."

What Is This?

She admitted things could have gone more smoothly at Dreamforce, particularlyin differentiating the product for others in the increasingly crowdedBI-analytics field.

"Initially, when Salesforce announced that this is for everyone andit's mobile and it's a platform, a lot of those messages had been used in thepast. They were nothing new when it comes to the BI space or analyticsspace," she said. As a result, potential customers were confused aboutwhether Wave was just a discovery tool or something "you could plop ontop" of a BI platform.

"That was something I don't think we expected -- that we would have todo a little more education about how broad the capabilities are of the AnalyticsCloud," said Rosenman. A key was to show how Wave fits into the new Salesforcecommitment to making itself into a customer success platform.

Learning Opportunities

"We started with sales, service, platform, marketing -- it's reallygoing around the entire front office portion of the business," she said."And I think analytics really closed the loop. Ultimately, customer successis how you engage the front office, but also pulling some of that informationfrom the back office."

Does it cost too much? The administrative tools of Wave, called Builder, cost$250 a month per seat. Even the version for business users, called Explorer,costs $125. Add to that a basic license of $40,000, which is in addition to anyother site licenses paid by existing Salesforce customers. In all, Wave costsmore than Salesforce charges for its service and sales products together, thoughit's likely Salesforce offers deep discounts from the list price for bigcustomers.

What's the Alternative?

Rosenman shrugged off the cost concerns, noting it's far cheaper forcustomers to use Wave than for companies to build their own data centers, whichrequires hundreds of thousands of dollars for hardware, software and technicalsupport -- not to mention a place to put them all.

On top of the on-premises costs, companies would then have to create aprocess to develop the apps needed by line-of-business users. That typicallyinvolves filling out a request to the CIO and waiting weeks or months for theapplication.

"You shouldn't have to log a ticket to get visibility into yourpipeline," said Rosenman. "You shouldn't have to log a ticket to get aview of your entire customer base. You should be able to do all of that on yourown."

To be sure, as Evelson sagely noted back in October, there's work ahead andRosenman is well aware. She won't list the upgrades that will be announced inFebruary or the additional products under development to complement Wave, buthinted they will amplify the speed with which users can acquire results.

"We're just pushing really hard on this product," she said."Our teams are working non-stop because we want to keep the momentumgoing."

Title image by Barry Tuck/Shutterstock.