We’re all painfully aware of the overwhelming growth of Big Data. Yet, only 13 percent of organizations surveyed by Gartner have deployed solutions to overcome their Big Data challenges, despite 73 percent of respondents reporting they have invested or plan to invest in Big Data in the next 24 months, up from 64 percent in 2013.
Salesforce.com recently announced its remedy for the Big Data challenge – the Analytics Cloud. The much anticipated offering was revealed at Dreamforce 2014, after it had been leaked by the company’s co-founder and CEO, Marc Benioff in a promotional tweet.
There are a number of important value propositions that underlie Salesforce.com’s Analytics Cloud offering.
First, data is being generated by a widening array of products, devices and services that support a variety of customer-centric business processes. Therefore, Salesforce.com believes an organization’s customer relationship management (CRM) system should be the system of record for the data being generated by the new wave of ‘Internet of Things’ and other customer interactions.
Second, because everyone in an organization needs greater access to information and insight to do their jobs, Salesforce.com argues organizations need a more centralized yet simpler approach to capturing, interpreting, sharing and acting on data. Rather than build standalone data warehouses and business intelligence systems which only a few highly skilled staff can access and utilize, today’s data-driven businesses must emancipate analytics function by embedding it directly into all of their enterprise applications.
Third, in order to achieve this Big Data utopia a cloud-based analytics platform must be deployed that is augmented with a myriad of connectors that can gather third-party data from various internal and external sources. In Salesforce.com’s case, it is capitalizing on a variety of connectors which allow data from legacy systems and commercial information services to be combined with information gathered within its Salesforce1 platform.
Fourth, and closely related to the previous value proposition, are the benefits associated with having a vast partner ecosystem of third-party software vendors that have built application program interfaces (APIs) which enable their programs to interoperate with Salesforce.com’s CRM platform. The AppExchange partners have designed their apps to feed and share data across their solutions.
Finally, the ‘presentation layer’ of the analytics platform should be intuitive so that end-users and executives alike can easily find, understand and utilize the data to meet their day-to-day and long-range needs. Thus, everyone from the highest level executive to the most remote, frontline worker has the ability to access the same analytics solution to obtain and leverage data to perform their jobs.
Of course, these are merely Salesforce.com’s bold promises for addressing the Big Data problem. While the initial pilot programs among its AppExchange partners and early customer deployments have been encouraging, rolling the Analytics Cloud out to the broader market will require a lot more pieces to fall into place.
It is for this reason that the professional services firms that make a living offering consulting services to Salesforce.com customers were the happiest participants at this year’s Dreamforce conference.
Once again, the consultancies that specialize in Salesforce.com deployments manned the biggest booths in the AppExchange Expo and gathered the greatest number of leads for new consulting engagements that will put the Analytics Cloud to the test and ultimately prove whether it can fulfill its promise in the marketplace.
Disclosure: Salesforce.com paid for my travel expenses to Dreamforce and is a sponsor of THINKstrategies’ 4th annual Cloud Channel Summit.
Kaplan is Managing Director of THINKstrategies (www.thinkstrategies.com), an independent consulting firm focused on the business implications of the on-demand services movement. He is also the founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace (www.cloudshowplace.com), and the host of the Cloud Innovators Summit series (www.cloudsummits.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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