One year on, how much of the promise has been fulfilled? For all the colorful demonstrations and the talk of making analytics usable by ordinary business users, the Analytics Cloud is more of a platform for developers than a finished, off-the-shelf application. There's a substantial learning curve required to make sense of Wave before it yields productive results. In addition, there's a steep platform license fee that has restricted enterprise buyers to a small group with deep pockets and a strong business case for deploying the technology.
But buying a license for the Analytics Cloud is only one of several ways that a Salesforce customer can now get their hands on Wave functionality. This year's Dreamforce will see three distinct types of Wave applications on show.
Wave for the masses
Salesforce has been packaging up Wave functionality into role-specific analytics apps that run alongside its core applications. These packaged apps don't require the purchase of the Wave Platform license, and although Salesforce has not yet announced per-user pricing, this is expected to be substantially less than a full Wave user licence. These apps are destined to be marketed to the entire Salesforce customer base.
Two have been announced so far, both in pilot initially, and with minimal fanfare — expect the noise level around these apps to ramp up significantly at next week's Dreamforce.
- Sales Wave Analytics was announced in June. It includes pre-configured sales accelerator templates, historical analysis and business workflows that allow users to follow up insights with actions. General availability is due before year end — we might be hearing further news on this next week.
- Service Wave Analytics was quietly introduced in a blog post last week. Designed for service agents and their managers, this includes pre-configured templates, visualizations and workflows, taking advantage of the recently unveiled Lightning Console to present information in a visually productive layout. General availability is slated for early next year.
Wave-enhanced partner apps
It's no secret that Salesforce has been encouraging its ISV and systems integrator partners to build Wave capabilities into their products and consulting practices. The fruits of those efforts are on display at Dreamforce, with over a hundred sessions dedicated to analytics, many of them presented by partners.
Packaging Wave analytics into a partner product is another route by which the technology can reach a wider market that isn't ready to pay a steep platform license and per-user subscription. As a platform component, the cost of including it becomes just another part of the partner's development and operations costs.
Salesforce has also been including Wave functionality in its own newly announced industry cloud applications, such as the Financial Services Cloud and Health Cloud. These allow the vendor to showcase what can be achieved using Wave.
There are still very few customers at this year's Dreamforce showing off what they've done with Wave and the Analytics Cloud — the short list of names (Cisco, EMC, HP, Verizon and a couple more) mostly comprises those who got early access.
The numbers will grow now that systems integrators have had time to learn the technology and work out how to apply it to customer projects. But building a Wave application from scratch is a large-scale undertaking that only makes sense if the business case can demonstrate a substantial payback. Enterprise implementations will continue to be sparse unless Salesforce substantially reduces the cost and complexity.
This need to jumpstart enterprise adoption is perhaps one reason why Salesforce has been splashing out this summer on acquiring consultancy firms such as Paris-based Kerensen Consulting and Chicago-based digital engagement consultancy Akta. It is ensuring that it has its own pool of talented individuals and teams that can help customers develop compelling new projects.
A year on, the role of Wave in Salesforce's product landscape is far clearer than was evident when it first launched. This was never going to be a mass market product in its raw form. Its larger role is as a platform component that provides functionality to packaged and vertical applications offered both by Salesforce and by its ISV partners. In that role, it has the potential to become pervasive throughout the product portfolio.
Disclosure: Salesforce is a diginomica premier partner. I am traveling to Dreamforce as part of a paid consulting engagement with Salesforce ISV partner Vlocity.
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