Dreamforce: What Salesforce.com’s Analytic Bomb Drop Means For The Marketing Cloud

WhatsWaveSalesforce.com revealed Wave Analytics Cloud this week at its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, the latest patch – alongside marketing, sales and customer service – in the tech giant’s quilt.

Speaking to more than 100,000 registrants (some were virtual), Salesforce.com’s chairman and CEO Marc Benioff called the analytics offering “revolutionary” and swiped at analytics competitors.

“When you look at companies like SAP and Oracle with data products of the past… no wonder they’re turning over their CEOs,” he said onstage. This was an obvious shot at Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison’s recent transition out as CEO of the rival CRM company.

Opinions on Wave were mixed. While the offering fills an important gap in Salesforce.com’s portfolio, Ray Wang, chairman of Constellation Research, said “Let’s get some definitions right – Analytics Wave is not analytics nor is it big data. It’s data visualization and reporting.” Wang’s opinion underscores a common Salesforce.com criticism: That its more robust capabilities come from partnerships via its AppExchange program.

But this is also, arguably, Salesforce.com’s strong point. It’s a lightweight platform powering thousands of third-party APIs with consumer-like design elements.

“Salesforce has the customer golden record, so you can imagine how many thousands of [independent software vendors] will want to [integrate] their own data,” said Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of early Wave Analytics partner MindTouch. He called the platform “stupid easy” to use. “I’ve been through partner agreements that are 120 pages long and Salesforce.com is the most partner-friendly ecosystem I’ve ever seen,” he added. “It’s easy and no bullshit.”

Attribution and cross-channel planning tool MarketShare also teamed up recently with Salesforce.com to bring attribution reporting to Marketing Cloud users.

William Merchan, SVP of strategic alliances and GM of dynamic pricing at MarketShare, said the driver was the need for marketers to understand the long-term impact of everything from offline branding to publisher-level performance in display. “Generally speaking, what Salesforce.com offers is an end-to-end understanding of customer data, amplified by first-party information solutions,” he noted.

Will Analytics Make Waves In Marketing?

Although Salesforce.com claims Wave is intended for all enterprise use cases – including marketing – the investment community seemed less convinced.

One Wall Street analyst, during a late afternoon investor meeting, questioned the connections between the recently-rebranded Marketing Cloud (eschewing the ExactTarget branding) and Analytics Cloud.

In response, Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce.com Marketing Cloud explained that Wave analytics is a “flat offering” for data analytics and business intelligence “in a way that is mobile friendly to an extreme.”

“If you look at the use of the Marketing Cloud and our analytics, it exists for the purposes of measuring digital engagement, who’s opening, clicking, visiting [the] website,” he added.

He said some customers apply “other” forms of data for the purposes of marketing segmentation, such as financials or call center data. “[Ticketmaster owner] Live Nation would not use the Marketing Cloud for their operational reporting across all their customers. It would be just for the purposes of those marketing use cases, and the analytics cloud cracks that open to all generalized use cases.”

John DiFucci, an analyst at Jefferies, asked whether the ExactTarget technology was integrated with the remainder of the Salesforce.com platform. McCorkle said strong efforts are underway for platform-level integration, with particular focus on ExactTarget’s Journey Builder tool, designed to manage customer journeys across channels.

Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research asked about the Marketing Cloud’s ability to buy media beyond social ads, such as in display advertising or video.

“Social advertising is much more like a one-to-one interaction than it is a remarketing cookie that one isn’t quite sure who it is in an unidentified world,” McCorkle said. “However, the broader media buying world would be an area of interest to us as we think about our platforms expanding over time. But we sure do like that social advertising part right now.”


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