Introducing the Salesforce Analytics Cloud

In this blog Graham Hopgood tells us about the power of the Salesforce Analytics Cloud and why it’s the perfect tool for Monitoring and Evaluation professionals who love crunching data and tracking trends.

“You love the seamless integration with data in your CRM. Where reports used to take days of work in Excel and would often be out of date before they landed on a desk, your management team love that those same reports are now available at the click of a button using Salesforce

You love seeing that dashboard you spent hours putting together up on screen in a team meeting. You love seeing your end users starting to get more confident with reports, editing filters and adding columns to get the data they need.

But, sooner or later, you may bump into some limitations with Salesforce reporting.

No matter what, you can’t get the components on your dashboard to replicate the report design your Finance Manager sketched in a notepad and is insisting they need. Try as you might, your objects won’t quite mesh together in a custom report to match that new Impact Measurement framework in the way you were hoping. At some point, you will be explaining why a “Joined Report” won’t join those reports in the way your users are insisting they should join.

One of the joys of Salesforce reporting is using the hugely capable, but ultimately limited, tools available to solve your business data problems. And don’t get me wrong, you can address the vast majority of business requirements and the ones you can’t can often be worked around with some manual data manipulation.

But if you’re someone that has used SAS, SPSS or R for data analysis, or even simple SQL, you’ll miss the flexibility and advanced capabilities they offer, particularly if your organisation has very large and/or very complex data.

And while your users might be confident enough to play around with simple filters or data ranges, Salesforce reporting isn’t quite intuitive enough for most end-users to get confident enough that they are fully self-sufficient.

Salesforce Analytics Cloud

This is where Salesforce Analytics Cloud comes in. It’s a suite of capabilities that transforms your Salesforce CRM into a true Business Intelligence tool.

Built for big data, Salesforce Einstein Analytics can handle millions of records from your Salesforce system, external datasets or both with seamless performance. Datasets can be joined in almost any way, while individual datapoints can be transformed and aggregated, and many of the statistics functions you’ll find in SAS or SPSS are available. It has fully featured security and sharing models.

And for your users that want instant insight into their data, Einstein Analytics Dashboards really are another level from what you have experienced in Salesforce. You’ll be able to implement filters, date ranges, sort orders and groupings to allow your users to construct complex analyses with a few clicks and intuitively drilldown into their data like never before.

There is a constantly growing collection of data visualisations, from run-of-the-mill bar and pie charts to pyramids, treemaps and even geographic maps. All visualisations are interactive, and users will be delighted to see that, say, clicking on a pie chart slide or a country on their map will filter the rest of the dashboard to that segment!

And what about the “Einstein”? Salesforce has added the power of machine learning to your analytics, allowing you and your users to generate predictions and recommendations based on your existing data.

Why invest in Einstein Analytics?

If any of the following describe your non-profit, then you should be considering Einstein Analytics:

  • You have a large numbers of data records that need regular and/or fast analysis
  • You have a complex data structure
  • You want to link your Salesforce CRM data with external datasets
  • Your users want to be “hands-on” with their data, without needing to become experts in Salesforce reporting or Excel
  • Your users want dashboards that are both visually stunning and informative
  • Your users want to use filterable dashboards to create actions against CRM records

If more than one of these applies, you have a strong business case to start using Einstein Analytics.

There are many Business Intelligence tools on the market, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. What sets Einstein Analytics apart is the ease with which your Salesforce data can be integrated, letting you completely automate ETL and ensure that your Einstein Analytics dashboards show real-time data.

The look and feel will also be familiar to your Salesforce users, while accessing the dashboards is conveniently via their usual login – you can even embed dashboard components into your CRM platform to share your powerful data insights with employees and partners.

You should be aware that Einstein Analytics is not simply an extension of Salesforce reporting, it’s a totally separate and extremely powerful product. So, don’t expect to master Einstein Analytics in a few days. You’ll need to pick up entirely new skills, and that has been recognised by Salesforce recently introducing a dedicated Einstein Analytics and Discovery Consultant certification.

My Non-profit Experience with Einstein Analytics

Before joining Economic Change, I was the Salesforce Administrator at D&AD. They are an international charity working to stimulate and celebrate excellence in design and advertising and widen access to the creative industries.

Our Senior Management Team loved our Salesforce dashboards, and we had one for absolutely everything; from financial performance to operational delivery to marketing. But they were keen to get a Business Intelligence tool to “connect the dots” and start getting more actionable insights beyond top-level performance indicators.

With Einstein Analytics, we were able to produce dashboards that not only looked beautiful (a key requirement, being the home of design and art direction!) but were also intuitive to use and allowed our Managers to explore their data in surprising detail. We could also incorporate historic data to help identify trends and gaps.

Reports specific to a geography or programme or industry segment that used to take many hours, could now be produced in seconds – often collaboratively during meetings, and without a Salesforce Administrator or Data Analyst in sight!

Next Steps with Salesforce Einstein Analytics

If your non-profit is ready to embrace Data Intelligence and step into the brave new worlds of Big Data and AI, contact Economic Change for a consultation and demo on how Salesforce Einstein Analytics could meet your requirements.

You can read more about how D&AD benefitted from investing in Einstein Analytics here.