As Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference gets under way this week in San Francisco, the CRM company is getting a jump on new product announcements. Salesforce just unveiled Wave, the name for the Salesforce Analytics Cloud.
Salesforce is positioning Wave as the first cloud analytics platform designed for every business user. In other words, you do not have to be a technologist to draw insights from analytics in this cloud, because it is designed to let lay users explore data and take action from whatever device they happen to be using.
Essentially, Wave makes it possible for companies to deploy sales, service and marketing analytics -- or build custom mobile analytics apps -- using any data source. Companies like Accenture, Deloitte Digital and Informatica are already using Wave and will be on hand at Dreamforce to demonstrate how it works for their businesses.
How Disruptive Is It?
With the launch of Wave, Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said his company was "disrupting the analytics market, just as we disrupted the CRM industry 15 years ago."
The reasoning behind what makes Wave disruptive:
"The data revolution is creating new opportunities for companies to create deeper, more meaningful connections with their customers," said Alex Dayon, president of Products at Salesforce. "The Wave Analytics Cloud eliminates the painfully slow, complex and unintuitive legacy approaches that have long separated business users from their data -- finally, there are analytics for the rest of us."
The tech industry is seeing a rapid convergence of mobile, social, cloud and connected computing that is driving a data revolution. Salesforce is tossing around data points about exponential data growth -- like the projected 50 billion connected "things" in the "Internet of Things" by 2050.
Swinging the Door Open
According to a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute, decisions based on data-driven insights result in 23 times greater likelihood of customer acquisition, six times greater likelihood of customer retention and 19 times greater likelihood of profitability.
Yet data-driven insight is more elusive than ever for today's business professional, according to Salesforce. Analysts and executives at Fortune 500 tech firms like IBM have been saying that for years. But the cloud adds a new twist to the equation.
Many companies are using outdated, on-premise analytics software that requires technical staff to operate. By the time the end user gets a report, the information may already be dated. On top of that, easy mobile access is not widely available. Then there are the mountains of unstructured data from customer-facing apps and social networks that legacy analytics software can't process. Wave addresses all of those challenges, Salesforce said.
"The demand for self-service analytics is sweeping across every business function, as end-users demand relevant business insights delivered at the right time to increase their competitiveness and make decisions that positively impact revenues," said Dan Vesset, program vice president of business analytics research at IDC. "This swings open the door for a cloud-based analytics solution, such as Wave, which enables companies to circumvent bottlenecks inherent in the traditional analytics model to give users a more mobile, collaborative and simple approach to exploring any volume and variety of data sources."
Beefing Up the Platform
Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, told us he expected Salesforce to make this type of move -- and called it an important effort because of the requirement for data visualization and discovery vendors to plug into Salesforce as a data source.
"Being able to run data visualization and discovery in the cloud is really predicated on the ability to string together a lot of disparate resources so the company can find actionable intelligence," Shimmin said. "Salesforce is generating a lot of data for its customers but Salesforce as a platform for helping those customers find actionable intelligence has been pretty bare bones."
Like most Salesforce solutions, Shimmin said, initially Wave is going to cater to use cases around sales enablement and customer relationship management. But given its partnerships with the likes of Accenture, Deloitte Digital and Informatica, he said he expects to see Wave broaden out.
"Salesforce is trying to bring members of its Salesforce1 platform ecosystem into this. So I think they are going to find and create a nice, hopefully vibrant third-party ecosystem around building out direct analytics on top of any Salesforce data, whether it's sitting in a CRM suite or sitting in a third-party app that's built around Salesforce1."
Wave Analytics Cloud hits the market Oct. 20 in English, with additional language support coming later. The Wave mobile app will debut on Apple iOS for iPhone and iPad. Salesforce will add other mobile platforms in the future.
The Wave Explorer license includes the ability to view, discover, personalize and share data insights and dashboards. Pricing starts at $125 per user per month. The Wave Builder license includes the ability to create, deploy and manage data sets, data connections and user access. Pricing starts at $250 per user per month.