By Dave Dixon and Brian Chambers
Dreamforce ‘14 saw the birth of Salesforce Wave (aka Analytics Cloud), an analytics application that allows businesses to analyze data from sources outside of their Salesforce org (e.g., SAP, Oracle, or other Salesforce orgs) — along with existing Salesforce data — at massive volumes. What sets Analytics Cloud apart is not the ability to collect data from various sources; it is Wave’s ability to query it, and act on it, from any device. Below, we examine key features and take a look forward at the future of Wave in 2016.
Salesforce Wave: a cloud for everyone
One of the things you may notice first about Wave is its nice, clean visuals, with a user interface that was inspired by gaming interfaces. Then, there is its ease of use; Wave makes it simple for anyone who lives with the data — any skill level, across all industries — to collect, slice, and dice it just as you would in an Excel spreadsheet. This is not software designed solely for data analysts. And as a mobile-first cloud business intelligence (BI) platform, Wave is business software that is progressively user-friendly — meaning it actually looks better on a mobile device than a desktop.
Of course, over a year since its initial release, Wave has proven to be a powerful tool — but only for those companies who have companies who have found solid business use cases and take the time to understand its capabilities. For many users, Wave will take some time to learn; consider its homegrown language: SAQL (Salesforce Analytic Query Language) — not the standard SQL — which may impede capabilities data analysts have grown accustomed to with a SQL environment. While this does not make Wave any less powerful, or useful to the average user, it does impact adoption because users need to learn a new language in order to use Wave.
For many Salesforce users, an obvious benefit of choosing Wave over third-party software like Tableau to analyze their Salesforce.com CRM data is that Wave folds in naturally to the Salesforce user experience and Salesforce ecosystem. For them, Wave is it.
What does 2016 hold for Salesforce Wave?
Wave is a quickly evolving product, and now follows the 3 releases per year cycle that the core Salesforce Sales Cloud product follows. However, there are some things we already know about the next year of Wave:
- Industry-first. Wave will be evolving through innovation within the partner ecosystem around industry-first solutions.
- Part of the core solution. Wave will be folded into more Sales and Service Cloud implementations to bring data from across the enterprise into the view of frontline employees.
- Primary sales tool. In the sales field, Wave will become a valuable tool for field sales to speak with customers and prospects about engagement and potential value.
- Diagnostic tool. Customers with mature Salesforce implementations will use Wave to monitor the performance and use of their platform for things like user adoption, code performance, and event monitoring.
- IoT insights. The connectors and data for IoT are great candidates to load large datasets into Wave for easy consumption and gaining insights.
- Better tools for developers. Tools for developers that will help accelerate development and debugging are already in the works. One example is the new Wave Labs Heroku app.
In many ways, Wave is still in its infancy. The product is rapidly maturing, and 2016 will help solidify its place in the Salesforce family of tools and show users what it can do, and just how well.