What Salesforce.com’s Wave brings to the analytics market: Page 2 of 2
By Edwin Yapp November 7, 2014
‘Better late than never'
Wave is the culmination of a little over two years of intense work under the guise of a Salesforce.com stealth project following its acquisition of analytics player EdgeSpring in 2013.
The platform offers an alternative to traditional BI platforms for customers needing to combine cloud and on-premises data, including unstructured data.
Although Wave represents a new wave (no pun intended) for Salesforce.com, critics have said that the company has come late to the analytics game, having had a few false starts since acquiring EdgeSpring.
Industry analysts, customers and partners have also argued that the company needed to extend its CRM platform to include big data analytics.
But Wave faces stiff competition from a mix of both big enterprise players as well as niche startups, all of which have been in the market for some time.
Old hands include Microsoft with its Azure Learning Machine; IBM with its Watson Analytics Tool; Oracle with its Analytics Cloud; and SAP SE’s HANA platform and its tie-up with Birst Inc.
Several other smaller competitors – Tableau Software Inc, Qlik Technologies Inc and startups such as Platfora Inc and Interana Inc – are also vying for the cloud analytics pie.
According to research and analyst firm Gartner, Wave’s search index architecture – combined with native data integration capabilities, as well as those from extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) partners – enables customers to integrate Salesforce.com with non-Salesforce.com cloud and on-premises data from multi-structured sources.
Gartner said Wave offers standard point-and-click interactive visualisations, dashboards and analyses, and that the platform is ‘natively-mobile’ with an emphasis on smartphones and tablets, and is integrated with Salesforce.com's collaboration software.
However, the research firm noted that the first release lacks certain features such as advanced data exploration for the business analyst, and geospatial and self-service data preparation.
Salesforce.com said it plans to fill these gaps and differentiate further in 2015 and beyond.
Daniel-Zoe Jimenez (pic), senior programme manager for big data and analytics at IDC Asia/Pacific, said that from a product perspective, Wave does not provide very rich functionalities to compete with end-to-end analytics solution providers, but added that this is not a deal-breaker for Salesforce.com’s existing customer base.
Also speaking to DNA on the sidelines of Dreamforce, Jimenez said he does not believe that Wave is getting into a head-to-head competition with the large analytics players, but rather is designed for business users and not intended for heavy users like business analysts.
“Salesforce.com is late to this market but better late than never,” he said. “Wave fills a gap that many customers have been asking for, especially in Asia Pacific.”
Jimenez said that until now, some of the company’s customers have been using other products to do what Wave is able to do now.
“The demand for easy-to-use, visually-appealing analytics is growing and organisations are increasingly interested in using more effective ways to analyse their data to make informative decisions,” he said.
Jimenez said there is still a large number of users that are still using Microsoft Corp’s Excel spreadsheet, and Wave presents customers with more choice.
“While this makes sense for existing customers, it is going to be interesting to see if Wave can positively help Salesforce.com expand into new accounts [non-Salesforce.com customers] as a standalone offering in the future,” he added.
In a research note (subscription required) released by Gartner after Dreamforce, entitled Salesforce.com's Entrance Into BI and Analytics Could Transform the Market, the research firm noted Salesforce.com's entry is likely to accelerate cloud BI adoption by other BI and analytics leaders.
“Overall, Wave’s launch will prompt a shift in buying attitudes, particularly among Salesforce.com customers,” the report said.
Based on its Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms report, Gartner found that far more organisations have adopted private cloud BI than public cloud BI.
Private cloud BI is also the intended choice for most organisations planning to adopt cloud BI during the next year, the research firm noted.
“Salesforce.com is a public, shared services cloud, so this could hinder Wave’s uptake outside Salesforce.com’s installed base,” said the report.
Addtionally, Gartner said Wave would be a particular threat to other enterprise application vendors, such as Oracle Corp and SAP SE.
“Oracle has invested heavily in delivering a cloud BI offering that features an updated user experience … while SAP has made a strong commitment to the cloud.
“But apart from HANA in the cloud and assets acquired from SuccessFactors, we consider SAP a late entrant into the market with a cloud BI offering.
“Wave’s launch is likely to accelerate SAP’s plans. We have seen SAP start to focus more on cloud BI with its October 2014 announcement of a partnership between Birst and Hana in the cloud,” Gartner said.
For companies looking at the viability of Wave, Gartner suggested that they consider Wave when selecting a product should they need to combine Salesforce.com data, other cloud data, and on-premises data in customer-facing analytics.
“Compare the core strengths and differentiators of the cloud BI vendors with those of Wave, beyond integration with Salesforce.com data and packaged applications. Then compare pricing and roadmaps too.
“Finally, evaluate the new cloud BI offerings and roadmaps of traditional on-premises vendors in comparison to Wave, and see if cloud BI is part of your BI strategy,” Gartner said.
Edwin Yapp reports from Dreamforce 14 San Francisco, at the kind invitation of Salesforce.com. All editorials are independent.
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Business intelligence, analytics not magic bullets: Tetra Pak
IBM unveils ‘analytics for everyone’ with natural language
Big data analytics: Companies still struggling with the basics
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