Salesforce’s Wave Hits the Analytics Market

At Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco on Monday, Marc Benioff unveiled his company’s much anticipated Wave Analytics Cloud product. Marketed as “analytics for everyone” with a focus on mobility and slick visualizations inspired by video games, Wave aims to bring more analytics to decision makers more quickly.

Wave is great news for Salesforce’s massive customer base. Current customers will gain the ability to easily attain valuable insight via modern dashboards on any device, and to even execute advanced analytical operations on all types of business data. This business-intelligence (BI) approach, which appears to treat customer analytics (sales, customer support, and marketing) as a first-class citizen, is quite a departure from current horizontal BI tools like GoodData, Birst, and Tableau that focus more on performing analytics across a myriad of functions. This Salesforce Analytics Cloud is sure to deliver real business value by offering a platform that’s more specialized for customer needs, which makes sense since most use cases for BI are related to sales and customer analytics.

Why analytics is a great move for Salesforce

Anyone close to Salesforce knows that Analytics Cloud is a huge step beyond the company’s standard reporting capabilities, which have historically been rather limited. Until now, the system really just scratched the surface of a business’ sales data (try to report on something like your sales cycle lengths by lead source over time, and you’ll see what I mean). That said, it was smart of Salesforce to leave analytics up to its AppExchange partners in the beginning, because the company was busy building the SaaS world we all play in today, starting with its customer-relationship management platform. Tackling analytics at that time would have been like running two entirely different companies.

However, over the past couple years, the data needs of modern sales and marketing leaders have grown dramatically with the rise of big data. Customers are hungry for insight, and have been asking why Salesforce doesn’t offer seamless, built-in, advanced analytics. Most companies just don’t want to move data between multiple services, especially if they have rigorous security policies or huge data sets. In this data-driven environment, Salesforce’s customer satisfaction has become heavily dependent on partners it can’t control, making it increasingly important for the company to shift toward a hands-on approach to analytics and meet customers’ needs directly.

(Read More …)

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Predictive First – A New Era of Game-Changing Software Apps

A guest piece I wrote for TechCrunch on how predictive-first (like “mobile-first”) applications will change the software game: 

Over the past several decades, enterprise technology has consistently followed a trail that’s been blazed by top consumer tech brands. This has certainly been true of delivery models – first there were software CDs, then the cloud, and now all kinds of mobile apps. In tandem with this shift, the way we build applications has changed and we’re increasingly learning the benefits of taking a mobile-first approach to software development.

Case in point: Facebook, which of course began as a desktop app, struggled to keep up with emerging mobile-first experiences like Instagram and WhatsApp, and ended up acquiring them for billions of dollars to play catch up.

The Predictive-First Revolution

Recent events like the acquisition of RelateIQ by Salesforce demonstrate that we’re at the beginning of another shift toward a new age of predictive-first applications. The value of data science and predictive analytics has been proven again and again in the consumer landscape by products like Siri, Waze and Pandora.

Big consumer brands are going even deeper, investing in artificial intelligence (AI) models such as “deep learning.” Earlier this year, Google spent $400 million to snap up AI company DeepMind, and just a few weeks ago, Twitter bought another sophisticated machine-learning startup called MadBits. Even Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon, with claims that its “Project Adam” network is faster than the leading AI system, Google Brain, and that its Cortana virtual personal assistant is smarter than Apple’s Siri.

The battle for the best data science is clearly underway. Expect even more data-intelligent applications to emerge beyond the ones you use every day like Google web search. In fact, this shift is long overdue for enterprise software.  (Read More)

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3 Gmail Tricks That Save Me Hours A Week

A guest piece I wrote for The Next Web on 3 Gmail tricks I use that save me literally hours of my life a week:

It’s totally unbearable and massively inefficient to process countless emails every day. And yet, to have any chance of success in today’s information world, you must communicate via email.

As you succeed, you become more networked, and more dependent on others to achieve even bigger milestones. As a result, your email volume just increases, while higher expectations require even faster responses and decision making. It’s a seemingly impossible cycle.

This is especially true for C-level and executive leaders. I was chatting recently with Suresh Khanna, Chief Revenue Officer at AdRoll, and he said it best: “Management is about making decisions – not executing. You need to delegate execution efficiently. You need to listen and keep everyone aligned on the same page.

“So, when it comes to doing this over email, you mainly serve as an email routing and forwarding agent.” (Read More)

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Why Salesforce Needed to Buy RelateIQ

A guest article I wrote for VentureBeat today:

Yesterday, Salesforce.com acquired RelateIQ for $390 million. With Dreamforce right around the corner, this was a significant — and smart — move on the part of Salesforce.com to show the industry that it is finally serious about data intelligence, which it completely lacked in its customer-relationship management (CRM) offerings to date … (read more)

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Why Most Product Managers Suck

A piece I wrote for The Next Web:

The first product manager (PM) is a crucial unicorn hire that no startup should compromise on. The reason is simple – your PM is responsible for managing your team’s most precious resource: time.

Unfortunately, nearly everyone seems to think they’d make a great PM (engineers, consultants, you name it), but the reality is that most folks just can’t hack it. I’ve worked with countless PMs at huge companies like Yahoo and Google, and over the past two months have interviewed over twenty PM candidates.

Out of all these folks, I’ve only encountered two PMs who actually do the job well … (read more).

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5 Things You Should Know Before Starting an Enterprise Company

Just posted a guest article on The Next Web on some of the key startup learnings my team and I have picked up while building up our company Infer. Although our company is emerging and in the enterprise space, I think you’ll find many of these insights to be broadly applicable.

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Filed under Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Venture Capital

Taking Seed Money from VCs Is A Risk Worth Taking

Here’s the link to a a guest article I wrote for VentureBeat arguing the benefits of including VCs early on as well as how the VC “signaling effect” (negative or positive) is sometimes a good thing for entrepreneurs to experience.

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