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Salesforce Drives Analytics Deeper Into Sales Process

Salesforce's announcements at Dreamforce this year illustrate how it's seizing hold of analytics and putting it to work for its systems.
Dreamforce 2015: 8 Ways Analytics Changes Business
Dreamforce 2015: 8 Ways Analytics Changes Business
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Salesforce has mostly banished the quantitative analysts, the data scientists, the business intelligence researchers, and all the PhDs in numbers when it comes to using its Wave Analytics Cloud and related applications.

It became clear at Dreamforce this year that Salesforce is not so much concerned with analysis in depth as analysis at the right time -- in the right place and in the right hands -- which is something different. Instead of a set of defined business processes known as customer relationship management, companies want to know what needs to be done next with the customer.

"We're moving from relationship management to relationship intelligence," concluded Steve Loughlin, former CEO or RelateIQ (acquired by Salesforce in July 2014), now CEO of the SalesforceIQ unit.

Other analytics vendors could come to an equal or better conclusion than Salesforce, given access to the same information. But only Salesforce is in the position to plug analytics into the day-to-day activity of millions of sales force members. Salesforce's analytics not only points them toward the right conclusions, but also the next appropriate action, without their leaving the application they're currently working in.

SalesforceIQ for Clouds is a mobile app built on top of Salesforce's CRM suite with hooks into other applications, such as email, to bring together customer information from disparate systems. Likewise, SalesforceIQ for Small Business is intended to get the right sales information into the right hands from different systems, and to do so even in the absence of a Salesforce CRM suite.

Then there are the applications that sit directly on the Wave Analytics Platform that are meant to draw information together from the CRM suite. Sales Wave Analytics came out in a public pilot in June. Philip Cooper, vice president of the Analytics Cloud, said during the Dreamforce Analytics Cloud keynote Thursday at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco that Salesforce was taking the best of Wave Analytics and bringing it to a Service Wave application as well. 

More role specific apps are coming to sit atop the Wave Analytics platform, with the goal of pulling the most relevant information out of Salesforce CRM and from outside applications. Additional applications are on the way from third parties, for example: Vlocity's industry cloud platform, FinancialForce ERP, Apptus quote-to-cash, SteelBrick quote-to-cash, Acxiom online marketing, TalentObjects online human capital management, and RootStock manufacturing ERP.

Salesforce's Wave Analytics platform is still quite young at less than a full year from its November 2014 launch, and its overall entry into analytics. But it's clear at this point that Salesforce represents a big change in how analytics will be adopted and in some cases play out in the enterprise.

It will have less to do with a select priesthood of PhDs toiling away in back rooms.

It will have a lot to do with putting tools into line-of-business people to make lots of basic and relevant information available to all, with the amount available depending on your role. The sales manager will review data from all sales reps. Junior sales reps will look mainly at their own data and that of their own customers, not that of another sales rep.

With role-based access implementable across the CRM product line, it's as if the role definitions in sales -- rep versus manager -- that dominates enterprise sales forces has come to business intelligence. In one sense, information that used to be inaccessible has been democratized and made more widely available.

In another sense, traditional roles will put some limits on how much information is available at each level. Access depends on the clearances and privileges associated with each user's role.

[Want to learn how Salesforce will get its IoT Cloud off the ground? See Salesforce IoT Cloud Success Rests On Informatica Partnership.]

In this new world of analytics, sales reps may find they're getting more information, insights, guidance, and assistance, and at the same time being held accountable to perform accordingly.

The SalesforceIQ system is helping them by inspecting their inboxes and drawing conclusions about how important conversations have been left incomplete or dropped. The salesforce is getting guidance on needed communications. At the same time, it's getting its inboxes inspected by a results-oriented system.

It's a brave new world in analytics that's a little different from what's gone before.

A data warehouse or business intelligence company would be able to hand off the insights and prompts that SalesforceIQ and Wave Analytics Platform apps will be giving to sales reps, but they would be unlikely to do so from inside a CRM application. Nevertheless, Salesforce is showing how analytics will be applied in many other parts of the business in the future.