Salesforce Wave / Analytics: new wave of BI or “BI as usual”?

Today, data analysis is a pillar of any activity . It is both a gift and a curse. On the one hand, companies have never had so much customer information. But on the other hand, entrepreneurs can be overwhelmed by a vertiginous amount of data, and therefore derive no value from it.

Companies juggle with data visualization tools, especially those adapted to mobile environments. These tools allow executives to benefit from a quick reading of problems and provide interpretable data while on the move.

But it remains to be seen whether these everyday interpretations are valid and to determine their effectiveness in the hands of people little, if any, trained in data analysis.

In the CRM , dataviz was previously offered as extensions (add-on). But in the fall of 2014, Salesforce.com unveiled a full-fledged native BI tool , integrated with the rest of its platform, and now known as the Salesforce Analytics Cloud ( formerly Salesforce Wave ).

Today, users have had time to see what Wave had in the womb. So, are the results at the rendezvous? Is the product at the height of the craze (in any case media) that it aroused? Not so sure.

Wave: wave ascending or descending?

At launch, Salesforce Wave gained excitement , especially compared to other BI tools on the market, such as SAP, Oracle and IBM. But if Wave is a powerful tool and easier to handle, it remains reserved for some companies (and some users) because of its capabilities and high prices.

Wave is the first and largest mobile application to enable users to leverage Big Data files on the go, transforming them into different, easy-to-analyze representations of information, such as charts and curves.

In theory, managers should be able to explore key elements of their business in a few mouse clicks, with little or no training in data analysis.

The February 2015 launch of some new products for Analytics Cloud helped reinforce this idea:

Wave Mobile Connector. This tool allows you to import a raw data set to a mobile device in real time using Wave. The data may be hosted anywhere the user chooses, as long as that location is connected to Wave.

This process eliminates the frustration of complex manipulations in interpreting Excel spreadsheets, even more complex operations on a mobile device. With Wave Mobile Connector, any information that would otherwise leave you confused is instantly transformed into a graph or curve, all according to a Responsive Design presentation that adapts to any screen size.

Mobile Dashboard Designer. This feature allows users to create customizable dashboards directly from the Wave app.

Users can search their data within Wave and, in just a few clicks, select their presentation; bar or sector graph, any other type of curve. For example, this capability will allow a sales manager – on a mobile – to generate budget charts with quotas and actual sales figures, and then explore and break them down by salesperson; all in a few clicks in the same dashboard.

Wave Links. This feature connects the Wave data and application to CRM dashboards and Salesforce Chatter.

It fully integrates Wave with Salesforce PaaS . Users can browse and share data between the two.

In theory, a manager can run an analysis, view the result graphically, and send it to Chatter, Salesforce’s corporate social media. He can solicit questions from the team or direct his members to a Salesforce dashboard without opening a laptop. Chatter also lets you comment on graphics and collaborate in real time on project data.

In September 2015, additional features were added to Wave that still fueled the idea that self-service and cloud-based BI can be simple.

A good analytical tool, but not that easy

While all of these tools offer exciting opportunities for both analysts and executives, questions remain about Wave’s viability for non-specialist employees, given the IT effort required to implement it.

While Wave is a powerful tool for many large organizations, it does not simplify workflow as promised by Salesforce.com.

The analysis of large datasets always requires a mastery of the domain and what the data itself represents. Allowing a sales or marketing agent to access this data, telling him which buttons to click on and how to generate a chart does not necessarily guarantee that this user will be able to instantly understand the meaning of the data.

Making the Wave Mobile app useful, but creating equally useful content on the fly will probably require clarification from business analysts or other expert contributors dedicated to this type of internal analysis.

Note to IT teams: Rather than using SQL, Wave uses a new language – ASQL. It could therefore be an obstacle for data analysts accustomed to an SQL environment.

And while the manager can do some analysis on a daily basis, the real-time analytics will probably not go beyond the desktop of data gurus.

While this is not bad in itself, it just makes Wave / Analytics Cloud similar to other BI tools currently available – such as Tableau , Qlick, or MicroStrategy – and is little more than a novelty in the market. analytics in 2015 in the eyes of the average user.

A cloud BI adapted to large groups (not to SMEs)

Salesforce Analytics Cloud’s strength lies in transforming large volumes of data from multiple sources into a real-time, exploitable, visual analysis.

Large companies with Data Scientists will benefit greatly. Indeed, the solution provides a tool for faster reaction during meetings, and instantaneous clarification of business processes.

SMEs, for their part, will probably not have the necessary resources for this product.

The current pricing model also indicates that the cost of Salesforce Wave would be prohibitive for small businesses. At $ 40,000 per month, plus $ 125 per user, this tool will require multi-million dollar ROI. Add this amount to recruit additional IT and analytical staff, and the bill starts to swell.

On the other hand, for a multinational that seeks to improve its inferences, Wave Analytics will certainly gain in power over time.

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