Reflections on Salesforce Wave

Reflections on Salesforce Wave

With the dust now settling on another spectacular Dreamforce, plans are now well advanced for our continued growth in 2015. It’s exciting to be thinking about how Salesforce Wave, the newly announced Salesforce.com analytics cloud, adds yet more breadth to the capabilities the Saleforce1 platform can provide to FinancialForce.com customers.  

FinancialForce.com was extremely fortunate to be given early access to Wave and in the weeks leading up to Dreamforce our technical team was able to get their hands on this exciting technology and think about how best to apply its capabilities when used in conjunction with data from our ERP family of applications.  Wave promised levels of business insight beyond what can typically be achieved with standard reporting and dashboards. We immediately saw how this promise could be realized as we built our proof of concept datasets, lenses and sample ERP visualizations.

Here at FinancialForce we build 100% native apps on the Salesforce1 platform that span the entire customer journey. Therefore, we were able to quickly extract and populate a single Wave dataset with transactional data from Opportunities, Orders, Shipments, Deliveries, Invoices and Cash together with a myriad of analytical dimensions such as Salesman, Product, Carrier, Region and Distribution Center.

Once we started to see this ERP dataset visualized in the Wave tool it was very clear that we now had the tools to give our customers levels of insight into performance, delivery bottlenecks and opportunities for process improvements that were hidden in the day-to-day transactional data. The video produced by our Development team, premiered during our Customer Community day, showed not only how those insights are revealed but also how the Wave tool provides stunning ways of presenting and collaborating on those insights with superb graphical presentation and embedded Chatter social feeds.

The more we looked at applicable use cases the more we felt spoilt for choice on what were the most powerful scenarios that a combination of FinancialForce ERP and Wave can offer.  So while I’m sure the deeper analysis of supply chain performance as described above will prove to be invaluable for FinancialForce customers, here’s a couple of equally powerful business scenarios that I’m expecting our customers to adopt as Wave adoption gathers momentum:

  1. Sales Performance analysis. Pulling together demographics from FinancialForce HCM with Opportunity data from CRM into a single analytical dataset will give Sales Management the ability to understand how attributes such as training event completion, qualifications, tenure, spoken language and educational background impacts sales performance by geography, product line, vertical and market segment.
  2. Professional Services efficiency analysis. Similarly leaders of professional services and embedded service organizations will benefit greatly from the ability to analyze datasets combining consultant and engineer demographics tracked in FinancialForce HCM with project performance data managed within FinancialForce PSA. Deeper understanding of how characteristics such as skills, certifications, location and prior experience relates to project profitability, utilization and employee retention can only lead to improvements in service organization efficiency and rising levels of customer satisfaction.

What struck me greatly about our initial exploration of Wave was how quickly we got into understanding the tool from an end user and presentation perspective compared to the much more long winded and painful Business Intelligence projects I’ve seen and indeed worked on in the on-premise era. In the past, BI projects seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time rationalizing and cleaning the source data before we got anywhere close to presenting the results to end users. The biggest challenge always seemed to be how to wrestle multiple locations and formats of the customer record into a single agreed representation of who the actual customer is. With Salesforce.com CRM and the full suite of FinancialForce ERP apps all sharing a single Account object, this huge obstacle simply goes away.

So this week I give thanks for the prospect of quickly deployed, graphically stunning, social, mobile, insightful analytics on the Salesforce1 platform with the complexity and pain of old style BI projects a fading memory.

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