Treat Your Data Like Food
The Salesforce Wave analytics platform is a great tool for doers across an organization. It gives employees at every level – from a CFO to a customer support rep – the ability to explore, visualize and unlock the value of the data to make informed decisions. But like most tools, customers will only see value if they can unlock its full potential.
Many customers look to SpringML as the key for unlocking Wave’s potential. Our products extend Wave in critical ways, while our services help customers configure the platform to their unique business, data and needs. This 2-part blog series covers advice I give to customers who are looking to supercharge their Wave investment.
The first piece of advice is to treat data like food, and their users like patrons. Let me explain.
Know What You Need
Data consumption is like diet. Everyone has different levels of appetite. Some people need more food to satisfy their needs. Some people need less. Everyone also has different tastes and nutritional needs as well. Some people enjoy buffets where they can pick and choose what food they want. Some people like well prepared meals served to them in style.
The first step in supercharging your Wave investment is to figure out your dietary needs and get full agreement on why you are investing in it in the first place. What questions are you trying to answer? What can it help you do that you couldn’t do before? Use that as a stepping stone to know what data you need to bring in and what’s just noise.
Most of the data you need is probably in the Salesforce platform already. However the answer to many questions may require more data. Luckily most major ETL providers offer connectors to easily integrate external data into Salesforce Wave.
Fresh is Best
Then consider the quality of food. If someone is served a fresh meal that they know is organically grown and locally sourced, they’ll enjoy it far more than someone who is served a mediocre meal with suspect ingredients.
The same goes for data. Users have to trust the data they see and it has to be fresh. This is the first step to conquering their mind and hearts. In order to get fresh data, robust integration and a high performing API is key. Wave is supported by the Salesforce infrastructure that processes billions of API calls with an average of 175 msec per transaction. Fresh data served up fast.
Also, when you’re evaluating apps to extend the Wave platform, look for solutions that don’t persist the data and pull it outside the platform. Apps that do this will result in slower response times, more money over time, and most importantly, data that isn’t fresh. You want your data locally sourced.
Plate Your Data But Don’t Get Too Fancy
When you go to a restaurant, the chef doesn’t throw a bunch of noodles on a plate and slop sauce on it. Restaurateurs know that patrons are more likely to consume more (and pay more) if the food looks appealing. However, some restaurants can go overboard. Imagine walking into a fancy restaurant, ordering a $30 meal and getting nothing but garnishes. The main course has to be there.
The same can be said for your data. Charts and reports are extremely critical to user adoption. When we show charts, users ask for more charts. That’s human nature. However, it’s easy to oversee an important signal with heavy illustration. Renowned computer scientist Ben Shneiderman said it well, “The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures.”
A well designed and well presented dashboard captivates the audience, especially executives who rely on visuals to surface critical insights and make decisions quickly. Wave provides a number of default templates, and the new Wave designer offers features to create beautiful dashboards quickly.
Here is an example of how our Lighthouse for Sales app applies this premise to create valuable dashboards and sales insights for our clients.
Notice this dashboard only has a few critical components. A dashboard like this enables sales teams to review pipeline progress in a way that’s efficient and easily consumable. Sales reps can review the forecast for the quarter, prioritize deals and get insight into their pipeline. Sales managers can use this to lead productive weekly meetings, guide their sales reps through deals, and ensure there are no surprises. Sales and marketing operations teams can get insights into trends such as sales benchmarks or campaign performance.
Visualization of data is important to adoption, but make sure you’re highlighting the charts that matter and focus dashboards on the insights that users need to take action.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series coming later this week.