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If you’re in business, odds are you’ve at least heard of Salesforce. And there’s probably a good chance that you work on it, which means you’ll be affected by the new Wave platform — a dashboard and visualization tool that provides simple data discovery for a nontechnical user.
Business users typically don’t continually monitor data, meaning they’ll likely miss critical changes in the data that could affect their businesses. Wave addresses some of the recognized issues with the current Salesforce reporting platform by providing self-service BI on the desktop and via mobile. However, it still requires users to monitor data or have questions that need answers for it to be used; it’s not solving the recognized BI and big data engagement problems.
For data to be useful and actionable, you can’t rely on users to monitor it. You must push users to understand what critical changes are occurring. In terms of those efforts, Wave falls short in these areas:
1. User involvement
Businesses looking for an easy button won’t find it in Wave. While it provides a lightweight self-service BI solution, it requires users to proactively ask questions of the data and hunt for answers. Essentially, Wave provides the canvas and palette, but you’re ultimately responsible for the painting. However, this exacerbates the growing problem of users becoming overwhelmed by data and resorting to gut decisions.
2. Actionable data
Every CEO knows he needs big data solutions to succeed, and Salesforce is hoping Wave will be its entry into this market. Leveraging the data and reporting to provide a better solution and position itself as a leader in a new market is a familiar step in the tech industry. But for big data to be, well, big data, it must give the user an actionable insight, and actionability isn’t a core component of Wave.
To provide actionable information, Salesforce must build an intelligent layer between data collection and data visualization. Users should only receive data that’s relevant and timely and that has context. Providing all data all the time — like Wave does — is not the answer.
3. The cost of doing business
Integrating big data is an investment, and creating the data warehouses necessary to fully utilize the analytics and reporting carries a high upfront cost. Using Wave pushes users into the Salesforce analytics cloud. The cost of moving all your data to the cloud to create a consolidated cloud data warehouse could be prohibitive for many businesses.
However, Wave is still labor and IT intensive. The fact that it’s partnering with Informatica and Dell Boomi suggests that there’s no silver bullet when it comes to data integration and management. There’s still a heavy ETL and modeling exercise required on a customer-by-customer basis to translate the data into a consumable format, which is timely and costly.
4. Everyone needs to be an analyst
Wave is great, but it’s not a solution in itself. It still requires everyone to be an analyst to comb through the data to ask questions and find answers. Think about it this way: You can have the coolest car in the world, but it’s useless without a driver. Data discovery and analysis is necessary to get any value out of Wave.
But while the BI industry is huge, few small to mid-sized organizations employ dedicated business analysts. And research from GE and Accenture suggests that about half of executives have talent gaps in areas like data analysis and interpretation. That being said, a considerable portion of the market will miss out on Wave.
As long as you have all your bases covered, Wave is a great addition to the team. It provides a simple, user-friendly layout to make simple analysis less cumbersome. The analytics process still takes work, but the intuitive graphical user interface of Wave will help your analysts or sales operations teams ensure your company stays on the right track.
Big data is a big deal, and Salesforce is introducing Wave as part of its cloud computing solution suite. If you’re expecting everyone in your organization to become data-driven, I’ve got a secret for you: It’s not going to happen. But if you’ve embraced the Salesforce ecosystem and want to step up from today’s Salesforce reporting, Wave will give you a way to get reports out to users.
Are you going to use Wave in your business?