As part of my on-going series of interviews
with the Informatica team who have recently implemented salesforce.com, I sat down with Peter Vanderhaak, director of enterprise data management, to discuss the analytics and data warehousing aspects of the project. Peter’s team is responsible for Informatica’s internal data warehouse as well as data integration, master data management, and pervasive business intelligence – basically ensuring timely, relevant and trustworthy information is always available. As our sales force automation (SFA) system has always been a hub of analytical data, I wanted to get a better understanding of the impact of a new CRM solution and how he and his team are adapting to the cloud.
How have you been impacted by Informatica’s recent implementation of salesforce.com?
Our CRM system is a major driver of analytic data throughout the organization, so by replacing the solution with something new, and specifically with something cloud based, my team had a lot of work to do to understand impact, and subsequently integrate the solution into the information landscape. Additionally, the data pulled from the CRM system is used by many departments that the Enterprise Application team doesn’t focus on as they may not be CRM users (i.e. Finance, Product Business units, etc). They do, however, rely on the data in many of their daily business decisions. Additionally, our Customer and Contact MDM solution
, which cleanses and standardizes data across our enterprise applications, had to be modified to pull and push data into the cloud-based CRM platform on certain business and precedence rules.
When did you get involved in the discussion to adopt salesforce.com?
We were brought into the project early on to identify potential impact. Our base requirement was to replicate what we had in our existing data warehouse environment with salesforce.com data. We also recognized that the analytics within Salesforce were better than the SFA we were replacing and several of our operational reporting needs were currently being addressed by our data warehouse. We spent a lot of time at the beginning of the project determining where reports should sit and we knew that a robust on-premise BI solution would still be needed.
A few people have mentioned our 360 report. What is it and why is it important?
At Informatica, salesforce.com delivers operational reporting for our sales team. But we also needed the ability to do consistent reporting across systems – SFA, marketing automation and ERP systems. We also have pieces of data coming into the warehouse from customer support, HR, professional services and other systems. Our customer 360 report is available in every account record of Salesforce CRM. It allows users to see historical data about the customer, support and maintenance information, as well as the relevant D&B hierarchy details. It’s a key component of our goal to deliver timely, relevant and trustworthy data.
With our previous SFA system, whenever new data sets came in or fields were added it would take a 6-8 week build cycle to get this new information into the 360 report. Our goal with this project was to implement an agile software delivery model in order to deliver value to the business every week. We needed to build a new interface into the new source application that would dynamically pull data multiple times per day. To further complicate this requirement, we were going to have to develop an integration job based on a source application that was constantly changing since we were still in the development cycle of the CRM project. At this point, we called Informatica Cloud
to help! Once we realized how robust and easy to use Informatica Cloud could be, the following day we had a replication job moving data into a test data warehouse target – capturing incremental data changes and easily adaptable against an ever changing Salesforce data model. This would have taken weeks of development effort in a constantly changing SFA environment in the middle of a project that was still determining what fields and objects to create. Additionally, the ongoing maintenance would have caused major headaches and increased run-rate costs.
How are you using Informatica Cloud for data replication today?
To populate hourly changes we use the data replication service
to populate staging tables to populate our enterprise BI solution. For point integrations into Salesforce, for example orders being sent to ERP, we use PowerExchange for Salesforce
to accomplish those tasks. We also use PowerExchange to do MDM company and contact processing. As leads come into our marketing automation environment they are standardized against D&B and cleansed before entering salesforce.com. With the Informatica Cloud data replication service, new fields and changes to existing objects can occur without there being an impact on our analytics downstream. It allowed us to be able to report on every single piece of data in our sales system in our data warehouse on day one of the salesforce.com implementation.
We’re constantly looking for new potential use cases for Informatica Cloud to complement what we’re already doing with PowerCenter, Data Quality, MDM and other Informatica Platform
technologies. Up next is taking advantage of the data replication service for our other SaaS applications in order to deliver cross-functional analytics for across the business.
Good stuff! Thanks for the overview Peter.
If you’re in the midst of investing in software as a service applications and platforms or still looking at the pros and cons, you might want to check out my other interviews with members of Informatica’s IT organization:
In my final post on the topic of Salesforce CRM and Force.com integration, I’ll be interviewing Informatica’s CIO Tony Young.