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Handling unwieldy data with Salesforce Wave Analytics

With sales teams struggling to access and consume data, Salesforce Wave Analytics promises ease of use and accessibility.

Organizations have bought into the promise of data-driven decision making. It's simply not enough to collect data with traditional business intelligence (BI) tools; companies are looking to integrate different data sources to speed their ability to mine huge data sets and uncover new insights. Sales leadership is hungry for it.

Still, despite the ability to capture so much data, most sales teams are still struggling to access and consume it. And if a sales rep can't consume it, the data becomes irrelevant. Bluewolf's recent report, based on responses from more than 1,500 Salesforce customers, revealed that access to data remains companies' biggest obstacle. Today, nearly half of all Salesforce customers have problems reconciling data from different sources.

Successfully implementing data-driven decision-making does not happen by accident -- it takes planning.

As they interact with customers, sales reps are already making decisions every day. They need data that they can trust to better influence their decision making. But all too often, data -- and its end goal, insight -- is too difficult to access, doesn't tell a complete story and is not actionable. Fortunately, organizations that believe in the promise of data are taking action: Nearly 70% of companies increased their investment in analytics this year.

Salesforce Wave Analytics Cloud is a powerful tool to arm employees with recommended actions based on insights, which can help them make smarter day-to-day decisions and drive more meaningful customer moments. And we're seeing its influence gaining steam in the near future: Six percent of companies have already adopted it and 14% are planning to invest in the coming year.

Getting started with the Salesforce Wave Analytics Cloud

The best companies are moving up the analytics maturity scale by investing in predictive and prescriptive intelligence tools to lead data-driven insights and take the next best action. For organizations not ready for a major cloud BI implementation among all their sales constituents, here are some recommendations to get started with the Wave Analytics Cloud:

1. Align analytics use cases to business outcomes

For any BI platform to truly succeed, it must help increase employee productivity and drive results. In the realm of CRM, that means the following:

  • Increase customer acquisition
  • Increase cross-sell/upsell or margin
  • Reduce attrition
  • Drive cost savings

To get started, find one or more applications for Wave, such as the number of customer service cases that have been opened, purchase and delivery history, or pricing level. These kinds of metrics align with employees' goals and have direct financial effects on your business. When data is proactively refined with the intention of getting ahead of potential customer problems, reps can better focus on tactics that boost customer experience and loyalty and drive a company's desired outcome.

2. Survey your sales team

To see the power of Salesforce Wave Analytics, focus on examples of where customer-facing reps need a tremendous amount of data in a format that is simple to consume. Dashboards are about storytelling: They need to be clear and simple.

3. Try a proof-of-concept with organizational data

The Wave Analytics Cloud has so many capabilities: mobile experience, Chatter (or Salesforce collaboration application) integration, great visualizations with drill-down capabilities, speed and the ability to integrate with Salesforce are just a few examples. But to see those capabilities in action, you probably need to do a trial-run of Wave Analytics, which takes minimal effort.

4. Build an analytics roadmap

Successfully implementing data-driven decision-making across your organization does not happen by accident -- it takes planning. Regardless of the capabilities of tools like Salesforce Wave Analytics, organizations still need people to adopt processes that influence better action and drive business results. Analytics roadmaps help organizations prioritize investments and foster internal adoption by balancing new capabilities with the wants and needs of end users.

For most employees, reporting is not just a daily task but also the most time-consuming activity. Clean, easily accessible data reduces the time it takes to produce reports and derive insights, not only improving productivity and efficiency, but also increasing the impact of analytical data on a company's business outcomes.

About the author
With more than 10 years of Salesforce leadership, Adam Bataran has driven numerous transformational Salesforce initiatives concerning predictive analytics, BI integration, Sales Performance Analytics, the 360-degree view of the customer and guided insights. In his most recent role, he led turnaround efforts at a struggling Salesforce implementation at Iron Mountain to become a prominent enterprise reference account throughout New England. He was recognized by Salesforce for his accomplishments there as an Eagle Eyes Award recipient, one of only 18 companies awarded globally at Dreamforce 2013.

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