Salesforce Sales Wave Analytics: Full Menu or À La Carte?

News Analysis: Salesforce offers the Salesforce Wave, the platform, and Sales Wave Analytics, the first of multiple apps to come. Should you choose focused apps, the all-purpose platform, or both? As always, cost and functionality should be your guide.

Salesforce last week announced Sales Wave Analytics, the first of several Wave Analytics Apps the vendor plans to roll out, each offering “role-specific templates designed to empower business users to uncover insights and take instant action.”

As the name suggests, Sales Wave runs on the Wave Platform the company introduced last year at Dreamforce. For now, Sales Wave is in pilot, but it’s expected to be released later this year. Pricing wasn’t disclosed, but one pundit guessed it will priced in the ballpark of $85 per user, per month.

A sales forecast report served up by the Salesforce Sales Wave app set for release later this year
A sales forecast review a seen within the Salesforce Sales Wave app, currently in beta and set for release later this year

There’s no word on when or how many other analytic apps might be introduced, but it’s obvious that apps for the Service, Marketing, and Community clouds will be on the list. And as with Sales Wave, each app would offer pre-built KPIs and dashboards.

The question is, how many apps will the typical Salesforce customer end up wanting? Another choice you can make is implementing the Wave Platform, the general-purpose platform, which gives tools to build almost any KPI, dashboard or report you could want against data in any of the Salesforce clouds. Salesforce Wave is currently priced at $125 per user, per month for a Wave “Explorer” business-user subscription and $250 per user, per month for a “Builder” admin/power user. The downside of using the general-purpose BI platform is that you would have to build out the apps.

A third option – and likely something companies with all-you-can-eat Enterprise subscription plans will choose – is using the Wave Platform as well as the individual apps. The apps give you all sorts of prebuilt content that you’ll want to avoid building from scratch. Sales Wave, for example, gives you:

  • Sales Wave Accelerator Templates: This is pre-configured content for building out sales data pipelines as well as analyses of sales levels, team performance, pipelines, sales by product, and triggers for recommended actions, such as resetting sales forecasts or identifying which deals to accelerate to hit sales targets.
  • Sales Wave Historical Analysis: The app offers prebuilt historical KPIs and views of sales revenue by quarter, year-over-year sales rep productivity, opportunity conversion rates at various funnel stages, and the length of sales cycles based on deal size.
  • Sales Wave Actions: Sales insights don’t just sit there; Sales Wave surfaces related tasks, such as changing close dates or engaging with stakeholders. Sales managers, for example, can move from early-warning indicators to best practices or coaching of salespeople who are falling short of goals.

Also included with the apps are wizards that help you set up data pipelines from Salesforce and third-party data sources (my mistake: the company says the app handles Salesforce data only) into the Wave platform. The Wizards will suggest data of interest for each app, but you can also customize the sources and fields of interest, according to Salesforce.

The bottom line is that Salesforce customers will want the head start offered by these apps, but will you want the platform capabilities as well, and which users should get specific app licenses versus general-purpose Explorer licenses? If that $85 per-user, per-month estimate is anywhere close to right, customers who balked at the $125 per Explorer per month/$250 per Builder per month pricing may well be enticed into giving Sales Wave a try.

Let’s not forget that the whole reason Salesforce Wave came about was that core Salesforce reporting capabilities are inadequate for many companies. For years, AppExchange partners such as Birst and GoodData have plugged this gap with their own analytic apps for sales, service and so on.

Salesforce says the Wave Platform and Wave apps are differentiated from AppExchange apps in that they’re a “native” part of Salesforce. The assertion is that this seamless functionality build into the app makes it easier to access data and to “make insights actionable” as part of the same application environment. Simplicity is also a Wave calling card, as visualizations and drill-down analyses were developed to be clean, clear and simple. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Wave app and Wave platform capabilities instantly become part of the Salesforce1 mobile experience, an area where Salesforce is clearly raising the bar.

MyPOV on Reporting Choices Ahead

Your choice of Wave platform vs. Wave Apps vs. AppExchange partner apps boils down to, as usual, functionality vs. cost. Unfortunately, the Salesforce roadmap isn’t fleshed out at this point. There’s no GA date for Sales Wave (I’d bet on Dreamforce release), and there’s no listing, let alone roadmap, for other apps to come. As for pricing, that, too, is yet to be determined.

Will Wave Platform users get discounts or free bundling of apps? It would make sense to offer combined pricing discounts. After all, Salesforce has made a big point of saying it has graduated from being a single-cloud company (“we’re not just about CRM”). Many customers will inevitably want multiple apps and general-purpose platform capabilities.

Existing users of Birst, GoodData or other AppExchange partner apps will likely want to see the complete app lineup, feature-to-feature comparisons and pricing before making any changes. Salesforce customers who have yet to upgrade from standard reporting features will also want consider pricing and options (including AppExchange partners) before committing, but it makes sense for these customers to at least give Sales Wave a try.

As for the greenfield CRM buyer, BI is down the list of buying criteria, but I’d want to see more of the Wave App roadmap and pricing scheme in combination with the Wave platform. Rival Microsoft, by comparison, has aggressively priced the bundle of Dynamics CRM with Office 365 and PowerBI (partly in response, no doubt, to the introduction of the Wave platform). The bottom line is that Wave Apps look attractive, but we have yet to hear the full story on app plans and pricing.

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