Salesforce Mashes Analytics in the Snow
Salesforce.com is paying particular attention to the analytics customization capabilities it plans to offer in the next version of its hosted CRM solution, Salesforce Winter '07. Today the company announced additional customization features for its analytics dashboards and integration with Crystal Xcelsius, Business Objects' on-demand BI solution. The announcement is part of a gradual run-up to the release of Winter '07, which marks Salesforce.com's 21st generation of its CRM software. Winter '07 is due to become available in the fourth quarter of this year.
While the main theme of the current version, Salesforce Summer '06, was integration between Salesforce.com's offerings and third party vendors via the AppExchange program, the topic for Winter '07 is "unlimited customization," says Ariel Kelman, the company's director of AppExchange product marketing. Kelman says the success of AppExchange, the company's network to host custom applications and integrate them with Salesforce, played a big part in determining the theme of Winter '07. "The resulting partnerships and integrated solutions from AppExchange [have been] a resounding success," he says. "In particular, we've seen plenty of demand for analytics offerings."
In Salesforce Winter '07, users will have the ability to fully componentize Salesforce's analytical dashboards so that they can bring together components of different vendors' BI software, which they can then share and manage. Business Objects is Salesforce's first BI partner to participate in this "analytics mashing" between Business Objects' Crystal Xcelsius data visualization offering and Salesforce.com's dashboard framework. Kelman says he expects at least another dozen BI vendors will join Business Objects in the coming months.
Once more vendors join the analytics mash-up category, Kelman says, subscribers will be able to create, share and manage business presentations and dashboards directly into their Salesforce implementations, allowing them to take the "best analytics solutions available and combine them to create new dashboards that are custom tailored to meet their needs. It's very much a community approach."
Given how hot analytic and BI applications are right now, Rebecca Wetteman, vice president of research for Nucleus Research, says the announcement was a good one for Salesforce. "Anything that makes BI easier for the end-user to customize and use is not only good for Salesforce and any of its partners, but good for the [CRM] industry in general." Wetteman was also impressed with Winter '07's ability to draw data from noncorporate databases, "such as Web sites."
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