Paving the road to big data with Salesforce

Big data is quite possibly the biggest topic in enterprise IT. Everyone is collecting data at unprecedented rates thanks to cloud services, CRMs and ERPs, and analyzing this information just seems like a logical decision in the modern era. After all, regardless of the type of data organizations gather, it is always possible to inject relevant news, social media content and customer feedback into those analytics systems, making platforms such as Hortonworks and Cloudera valuable for every industry.

In fact, big data analytics has become such an important and oft-talked about solution for business intelligence, marketing and sales that Salesforce is putting its cards on the table. Last fall, the company released Salesforce Wave, a data analytics platform that allows enterprises to visualize data collected and contained within this software-as-a-service solution. This was a great start, as data visualization tools often aid decision-makers in making trend-based choices, and in marketing and sales, those customer tendencies can make the difference between perfect demographic targeting and missing the mark completely.

However, Salesforce is not a company to shy away from taking risks and staying on the cutting edge. Parker Harris, co-founder of Salesforce, told GeekWire that his organization is “very iterative” and not afraid of harnessing new technologies, citing Apple Watch support as an example of Salesforce’s attitude. Harris explained that the company will stick to this game​ plan, and mobile and social were just the beginning.

“Salesforce formed partnerships with Google, Cloudera, Hortonworks, New Relic, Informatica and Trifacta.”

Connecting disparate data
The first step in Salesforce’s strategy to empower enterprises with better big data tools began at the end of May. Fortune reported that Salesforce formed partnerships with Google, Cloudera, Hortonworks, New Relic, Informatica and Trifacta, and the goal is to make moving data in and out of Salesforce Wave much easier. This should inspire further analysis of information, but Salesforce also hopes that business use this opportunity to combine formerly disparate data sets and use the insights to “fine-tune marketing and sales campaigns,” according to the source.

Keith Bigelow, senior vice president and general manager of Salesforce Analytics Cloud, told Fortune that each of those six companies will offer a “connector” at no cost, and this should allow organizations to easy integrate those big data analytics platforms with Salesforce Wave in a simplified and automated process.

“A lot of our customers are already using these big data platforms,” Anne Rosenman​, senior director for product marketing at Salesforce Analytics Cloud, explained to InformationWeek. “We’re delivering an analytic platform people can use. About half of current Wave users are accessing the app over mobile platforms.”

Breaking down silos and analyzing everything
Salesforce Wave and big data platforms belong together. With Salesforce collecting vast amounts of information, connecting the cloud-based CRM system to other sources of data can only benefit businesses, especially because companies don’t need to worry about storing this data on-premise. They can simply host it in Salesforce and extract every drop of insight without any negative effects on on-premise performance.

Visualizing data from various sources has the potential to revolutionize marketing and sales.
Data visualization

Visualizing data from various sources has the potential to revolutionize marketing and sales.

This additional level of connectivity also means that more departments can take advantage of Salesforce and analytics platforms. TechCrunch explained that breaking down these silos allows more data scientists and developers to work with the data and generated insights, and that only spells good news for sales teams, marketing professional and IT departments. Add in the fact that Salesforce formed partnerships with these enterprises, and it seems likely that more features will be added down the line. Salesforce Wave could eventually become a de facto data visualization platform in that regard.

While Bigelow told Fortune that integration will be easy, only time will tell. To be safe, businesses should be prepared with the right employees, as any setbacks in connecting Salesforce with big data platforms means less time crunching that data.

Paving the road to big data with Salesforce
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