In the journey from a single-purpose cloud CRM app to the behemoth that it is today, Salesforce has made many smart acquisitions. However, the recent purchase of RelateIQ may have just been its most ingenious. Although a relatively small startup, RelateIQ has gained a big reputation for its innovative use of data science and predictive analytics, which would be highly beneficial to Salesforce customers.
As relevant from the acquisition, there is little doubt that the cloud application world is making a tectonic shift to data science and the appetite for Big Data to be pieced together to fuel the highly desired 360-degree view is only growing stronger.
But while looking ahead is certainly important, those of us who live in the present have much work yet still to accomplish in the here and now. For many, that means figuring out the best way to leverage data integration strategies and the Salesforce platform to gain actionable intelligence for our sales, marketing and CRM projects – today. Up until recently, this has involved manual, IT-heavy processes.
We need look no further than three common use cases where typical data integration strategies and technologies fail today’s business users:
Automated Metadata Discovery
The first, and perhaps most frustrating, has to do with discovering related objects. For example, objects, such as Accounts, don’t exist in a vacuum. They have related objects such as Contacts that can provide the business user – be it a salesperson or customer service manager, with context of the customer.
Now, during the typical data-integration process, these related objects are obscured from view because most integration technologies in the market today cannot automatically recognize the object metadata that could potentially relate all of the customer data together. The result is an incomplete view of the customer in Salesforce, and a lost opportunity to leverage the platform’s capability to strengthen a relationship or close a deal.
The Informatica Cloud platform is engineered ground up to be aware of the application ecosystem API and understand its metadata. As a result, our mapping engine can automatically discover metadata and relate objects to one another. This automated metadata discovery gives business users the ability to discover, choose and bring all of the related objects together into one mapping flow. Now, with a just a few clicks, business users, can quickly piece together relevant information in Salesforce and take the appropriate action.
Bulk Preparation of Data
The second instance where most data integration solutions typically fall short is with respect to the bulk preparation of data for analytic runs prior to the data transformation process. With the majority of Line-of-Business (LOB) applications now being run in the cloud, the typical business user has multiple terabytes of cloud data that either need to be warehoused on-premise or in the cloud, for a BI app to perform its analytics.
As a result, the best practice for bringing in data for analytics requires the ability to select and aggregate multiple data records from multiple data sources into a single batch, to speed up transformation and loading and – ultimately – intelligence gathering. Unfortunately, advanced transformations such as aggregations are something that is simply beyond the capabilities of most other integration technologies. Instead, most bring the data in one record or message at time, inhibiting speedy data loading and delivery of critical intelligence to business users when they need it most.
Alternatively, Informatica has leveraged its intellectual property in the market-leading data integration product, PowerCenter, and developed data aggregation transformation functionality within Informatica Cloud. This enables business users to pick a select group of important data points from multiple data sources – for example, country or dollar size of revenue opportunities – to aggregate and quickly process huge volumes in a single batch.
In-App Business Accelerators
Similar to what we’ve experienced with the mobile iOS and Android platforms, there recently has been an explosion of new, single-purpose business applications being developed and released for the cloud. While the platform-specific mobile model is predicated on and has flourished because of the “build it and they will come” premise, the paradigm does not work in the same way for cloud-based applications that are trying to become a platform.
The reason for this is that, unlike with iOS and Android platforms, in the cloud world, business users have a main LOB application that they are familiar with and rely on packaged integrations to bring in from other LOB cloud applications. However, with Salesforce extending its reach to become a cloud platform, the center of data gravity is shifting towards it being used for more than just CRM and the success of this depends upon these packaged integrations. Up until now, these integrations have just consisted of sample code and have been incredibly complex (and IT-heavy) to build and very cumbersome to use. As a result, business users lack the agility to easily customize fields or their workflows to match their unique business processes. Ultimately, the packages that were intended to accelerate business ended up inhibiting it.
Informatica Cloud’s Vibe Integration Packages (or VIPs) have made the promise of the integration package as a business accelerator into a reality, for all business users. Unlike sample code, VIPs are sophisticated templates that encapsulate the intelligence or logic of how you integrate the data between apps. While VIPs abstract complexity to give users out-of-the box integration, their pre-built mapping also provides great flexibility. Now, with just a few keystrokes, business users can map custom fields or leverage their unique business model into their Salesforce workflows.
A few paragraphs back I began this discussion with the recent acquisition of RelateIQ by Salesforce. While we can make an educated guess as to what that will bring in the future, no one knows for sure. What we do know is that, at present, Salesforce’s completeness as a platform – and source of meaningful analytics – requires something in addition to run your relevant business applications and solutions through it. A complete iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solution such as Informatica Cloud has the power to make the vision into reality. Informatica enables this through the meta-data rich platform for data discovery, Industry leading data and application integration capabilities and business accelerators that put the power back in the hands of citizen application integrators and business users.
Join our webinar August 14 to learn more: Informatica Cloud Summer 2014: The Most Complete iPaaS