Salesforce Enters BI & Analytics Market by Leveraging Current CRM Platform Users

Is Salesforces Entrance into BI a Wave or Just a Ripple?Salesforce the world’s largest enterprise cloud computing company has recently unveiled “Wave”, their new enterprise business intelligence solution. The announcement was made in San Francisco at Dreamforce 2014 and is the buzz of the town and is already available in the AppExchange. This launch would make it Saleforce’s sixth “cloud” in the Salesforce Customer Success Platform. Details of the launch can be found in their recent press release, “Salesforce Delivers Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud.

Overall, Salesforce’s move into an already competitive market with leaders such as SAS, Qlik, Tibco, Microsoft, SAP, Information Builders, Microstrategy, and Tableau has been well-received by many analyst. Some believe that this product introduction was a smart vertical move that will position Salesforce into a growing multi-billion dollar market. This positioning allows Salesforce to leverage their enormous existing customer base; a base who will now have the option of handling their business intelligence requirements by the same vendor that takes care of their CRM – implying better system synergies.

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From the press release it seems that Salesforce will be targeting the markets demand for self-service solutions. “Wave is the first cloud analytics platform designed for every business user, making it easier than ever for anyone to explore data, uncover new insights and take action instantly from any device.” Wave was designed for business users and promises speedy delivery of crucial time-sensitive business intelligence activities by distributing the delivery responsibility across both IT and business units and getting rid of lengthy requests and red tape barriers.

The data revolution is creating new opportunities for companies to create deeper, more meaningful connections with their customers,” said Alex Dayon, president, Products, Salesforce. “The Wave Analytics Cloud eliminates the painfully slow, complex and unintuitive legacy approaches that have long separated business users from their data—finally, there are analytics for the rest of us.”

Critics argue that Salesforce has a long way to go before it can compete against the already established BI vendors. Those who have seen a demo on the Wave have said that it is not as simple to use as Salesforce would have you believe. It still has terminology and labels that are geared toward data analysts and there will still be IT intervention in regards to connectivity. Critics also point out that Salesforce has tried to enter other markets like the enterprise social market a few years ago, and failed at least by Salesforce’s standards.

In my opinion, this move makes a great deal of sense for Salesforce. The market for Big Data and Business Intelligence is growing precipitously and there will be plenty of market share available for Saleforce to command. Salesforce already has brand leadership downstream and has proven to provide easy to use platforms and great customer support. For their large breadth of customers, a platform is now available by a vendor they already have a relationship with so there is no switching cost. In Salesforce’s favor this could result in a standardization of platforms used across the enterprise which something that the market has been asking for according to Gartner’s BI market overview.

I don’t believe their late entry into a market with established competitors is a major disadvantage. I think they have the advantage of developing a platform from scratch that can fill the gaps and limitations that exist in the products already on the market. For example, Salesforce wanted to make Wave a consumer-like experience, and they actually brought in video game designers to make the product fun to use.

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Doug Atkinson