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Salesforce.com Adds Data Source Connectors and Preparation Tools to Its Analytics Suite
The capabilities aim to give businesses a richer understanding of customer behavior.
Posted Sep 14, 2017
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Salesforce.com today bolstered its Analytics suite with updates designed to help companies import data from third-party sources into their CRM systems, as well as prepare the data so that it can be acted upon to improve customer relationships.

Out of the box, the software vendor’s Analytics suite offers licensed users basic analytics, including reports and operational dashboards. And sophisticated users have access to role-specific, self-service apps via Einstein and the Einstein Analytics Platform, and AI powered analytics via Einstein Discovery, which work to surface intelligent recommendations to users.  

“We see this as an entire spectrum, from basic to advanced, depending on what our customer needs are,” says Sean Alpert, senior director of product marketing at Salesforce.com. “As our customers have moved toward more advanced analytics, they have found that they need to go beyond the CRM data in Salesforce, and want to be able to analyze that data.”

With added connector capabilities, Salesforce.com users can link their CRM systems to web-based data containers such as Google BigQuery and Amazon’s Redshift. Bringing in this third-party data allows users to view information from several sources within their Analytics dashboards. “This gives them a big-picture view of their business, and it helps them to be able to make decisions about their business more quickly,” Alpert says. A benefit to leaders is that they can ensure that outside data from accounting, shipments and orders, inventory, and compensation is tied to customer records.  

The connectors can be helpful, for instance, to software companies that sell products that log usage and feedback data. By importing customer usage data from Google BigQuery and placing it alongside the CRM data in Salesforce Analytics, end users can glean additional insights about customer preferences. They can also place it alongside accounting data from Amazon Redshift.

Salesforce subscribers can tap into artificial intelligence–powered suggestions regarding how to prepare, clean, and combine data coming in from various sources, Alpert says. A new function allows end users to preview recommended alterations to their data fields—including changes that make dates and currency formats consistent—that they can change with one click. Larger companies that use connectors to unify data from multiple teams that are situated in different geographies can see how their business works on a global scale.

“We’re making the entire process of managing the data a lot easier, and we think that this will allow customers to get insights from the data, rather than spend a lot of time cleaning” it, Alpert says.

The Analytics Apps Wizard also makes it easier for users to build and deploy sales and customer service apps quickly, Alpert says. While this was already a fairly straightforward process, customers can launch an app in just a few minutes and add functionality to it as they wish, including custom fields.

“We think that between the connectors, and the smart data prep, and having the Analytics Apps Wizard, that people are going to be able to get up and running a lot quicker and getting a more complete picture of their business,” Alpert says. A connector for Oracle databases is on the product road map, he adds.

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