Ok, I'll admit it, this post is a little late. Dreamforce was about a month ago (time flies). But I wanted to give some considerable thought to the new product announcements and what the implications will be for its user base and the market as a whole.
Dreamforce was a party, as usual. A-List guest speakers: Tony Robins, Hillary Clinton, and Arianna Huffington (Founder and CEO of the Huffington Post), just to name a few. Musical performances by The Beach Boys and Bruno Mars. Product announcements from Neil Young and Will.i.am.
Oh yeah, and then there was the usual good stuff. Training, break-out sessions, panel discussions, the real reason you go to Dreamforce. To learn about new innovations, features, and how other people from around the world are leveraging Salesforce Products to improve their businesses.
The thing I look forward to most, are the new product announcements. Since Salesforce has been #1 on Forbe's World's Most Innovative Company List for the last 4 years, you start to expect some big announcements each and every year. And they didn't disappoint. Salesforce announced the coming of two new products.
First on the list is Salesforce1 Lightning.
It's the next logical step for the company's non-stop push towards mobile everything. The announcement of Salesforce1 last year was a giant leap forward in truly extending the functionality of Salesforce apps to a mobile interface. Arming millions of mobile users with the same features and usability of their Desktop. Now they're taking it one step further will Lightning. Which provides a component framework and tool set to empower developers and partners to create their own mobile apps on the Salesforce1 platform. You can build a mobile app with all your data, not just Salesforce Data, but from third party systems such as SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft.
A quote from Mike Rosenbaum, EVP, Salesforce1 Platform, explains Lightning:
Think about it this way. Most of us know how quick and easy it is to create custom desktop apps on the Salesforce Platform. Lightning now gives us that same ease of development for our mobile universe. Design for any device and mobile operating system. Create custom apps for the AppExchange or for yourselves. Customize those apps for phones, tablets, and even wearables.
Lightning is going to give us the ability to truly take our businesses 100% mobile. This should be exciting.
The second major announcement came from Marc Benioff himself. While Lightning was technically the next generation of Salesforce1, Benioff announced, during his keynote, Wave, a new Analytics Cloud.
They are calling it "analytics for the rest of us", a democratic Business Intelligence (BI) platform that is mobile first and intended to be used by everyone and anyone regardless of their analytical prowess. Now as a self-proclaimed data nerd, I will admit this announcement really caught my attention. This tool was by no means a afterthought by Salesforce. We have more data than we know what to do with. In 2013, 90% of the worlds data was generated over the last 2 years. So Salesforce knew it had an opportunity to capitalize on our Data hungry world. BI has been growing faster than the market average for a number of years. It is no coincidence that Saleforce's president of Products was a co-founder of BusinessObjects, a mac-daddy of the BI world. Wave is a product more than 2 years in the making. If anybody can bring BI analytics to the masses, it's Salesforce.
I know what you're thinking. "I already have reporting capabilities in my Salesforce Organization." Indeed you do. And if that's enough then you can forget about the new Cloud. But this Cloud allows you to integrate all your data from all sources, not just Salesforce.
The platform is robust, fast, and simple to design on, with fewer restrictions than other current BI models. And since it was designed to be mobile from the get-go, it has a leg up on other platforms in the arena that have been experimenting with mobile for years.
So, it's fast, easy to build, easy to use. Sounds good to me. But there are a few "gotchas".
First, it is another Cloud, so you will have to pony up more dough. How much? $250/user/month for a Builder license, intended for admins and power users. $125/user/ month for an Explorer license which is basically your end user.
And there is a $40,000 per-company, per-month fee for the back-end infrastructure. Which by-the-way, they didn't mention at Dreamforce. This really burst my bubble. So apparently, it's for the "rest of us" with a large enough bank roll to afford it. Clearly, they are targeting larger companies first, with a greater need for an all-encompassing BI solution.
Now, they are rolling this out slowly. And there is already speculation that the pricing model will change. If they are truly serious about bringing BI to the masses, they will have to make the Analytics Cloud as affordable as their hugely successful Sales and Marketing Clouds.
I for one will be following this tool very closely over the next few years.
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