Salesforce.com has been pushing to make analytics more accessible to users of its CRM platform and now it's aiming to do the same for those customers' business partners, such as resellers and manufacturers.
In February, Salesforce announced that data and insights from its Sales Wave data analytics application would be available from directly within the Salesforce Customer Relationship Management platform.
Usually sales professionals would have to launch a separate analytics application or rely on data specialists to create reports to get insights on various sales metrics such as how long sales are taking in a particular business sector or geographic region or to identify the best prospects to meet sales goals.
On March 22, Salesforce took the wraps off Wave for Community, bringing these same analytics capabilities to the Salesforce Community Cloud, an online information sharing platform for partners, resellers and customers.
With the new release, Wave for Community Cloud customers will be able to embed Wave Analytics dashboards into any Partner Community. A Partner Community is typically an online area designated by a vendor for channel partners, resellers and other business associates to communicate.
With the addition of Wave Analytics dashboards, these partners get the same kind of data insights on sales trends and opportunities that the vendor's own sales teams have access to.
"This announcement is all about community and getting the insights from Wave Analytics to extend beyond the sales team to partners," Jamie Domenici, vice president of marketing for Analytics Cloud at Salesforce, told eWEEK. "Sales is a team sport, that's why so many companies rely on their network to succeed."
Domenici noted several examples, such as the brokers who support financial service companies, OEMs who make components for computer vendors and resellers who sell products for manufacturers. These are all part of a company's extended partner community who could potentially benefit from access to Wave Analytics in the Community Cloud.
"Wave for Communities is useful for partner networks—using insights to drive or demonstrate alignment with an extended partner network," analyst Howard Dresner of Dresner Advisory Services, told eWEEK. "It's consistent with our research which shows that delivering intelligence to customers and suppliers is the next frontier."
But the value of Wave for Communities will depend on its ability to deliver insights based on comprehensive data sets. For example, Domenici says partners will be able to compare their sales performance to market peers such as in retail or some other specific industries.
Companies can control what type of data and how much data they provide to be processed and aggregated by Wave Analytics. She says early feedback shows companies are eager to participate and contribute to get a broader view of how they are doing compared to their peers in the same industry. She emphasized the controls and security features built into Wave for Communities to keep the data anonymous.
"You can learn best practices from your peers and see what’s working and what isn't," said Domenici. "Also, so much of a company's data isn't in one place; it's stuck in emails and spreadsheets."
She gave the example of a gasoline distribution company in the U.S. that sells through hundreds of thousands of service stations, each one keeping their own records. Using Wave Analytics and data provided on Community Cloud, the gasoline distributor could compare the sales performance of their own service station chain to industry averages and note historical trends such as what holidays generate the most sales and what sales promotions work best.
An early customer, the AAMCO transmission and automotive repair chain plans to use Wave Analytics to share store data far more comprehensively than ever before. "Wave Analytics on Community Cloud is going to unlock 50 years of store data covering 800 stores and 1.5 million customers," said Domenici.
Community Cloud also offers users a "knowledgebase" of articles and reference materials relevant to specific industries. A Salesforce demonstration showed how the knowledgebase can be more than a repository of static articles by using Wave Analytics to play 'what if' with different market projections and third party data to create unique graphic projections.