In 2014, Informatica Cloud focused a great deal of attention on the needs and challenges of the citizen integrator. These are the critical business users at the core of every company: The customer-facing sales rep at the front, as well as the tireless admin at the back. We all know and rely on these men and women. And up until very recently, they’ve been almost entirely reliant on IT for the integration tasks and processes needed to be successful at their jobs.
A lot of that has changed over the last year or so. In a succession of releases, we provided these business users with the tools to take matters into their hands. And with the assistance of key ecosystem partners, such as Salesforce, SAP, Amazon, Workday, NetSuite and the hundreds of application developers that orbit them, we’ve made great progress toward giving business users the self-sufficiency they need, and demand. But, beyond giving these users the tools to integrate and connect with their apps and information at will, what we’ve really done is give them the ability to focus their attention and efforts on their most valuable customers. By doing so, we have got to core of the real purpose and importance of the whole cloud project or enterprise: The customer relationship.
In a recent Fortune interview, Salesforce CEO and cloud evangelist Marc Benioff echoed that idea when he stated that “The CEO is now in charge of the customer relationship.” What he meant by that is companies now have the ability to tie all aspects of their marketing – website, customer service, email marketing, social, sales, etc. – into “one canonical file” with all the respective customer information. By organizing the enterprise around the customer this way, the company can then pivot all of their efforts toward the customer relationship, which is what is required if a business is going to have and sustain success as we move through the 2010s and beyond.
We are in complete agreement with Marc and think it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to declare 2015 as the year of the customer relationship. In fact, helping companies and business users focus their attention toward the customer has been a core focus of ours for some time. For an example, you don’t have to look much further than the latest iteration of our real-time application integration capability.
In a short video demo that I recommend to everyone, my colleague Eric does a fantastic job of walking users through the real-time features available through the Informatica Cloud platform.
As the demo demonstrates, the real-time features let you build a workflow process application that interacts with data from cloud and on-premise sources right from the Salesforce user interface (UI). It’s quick and easy, thus allowing you to devote more time to your customers and less time on “plumbing.”
The workflows themselves are created with the help of a drag-and-drop process designer that enables the user to quickly create a new process and configure the parameters, inputs and outputs, and decision steps with the click of a few buttons.
Once the process guide is created, it displays as a window embedded right in the Salesforce UI. So if, for example, you’ve created an opportunity-to-order guide, you can follow a wizard-driven process that walks your users from new opportunity creation through to the order confirmation, and everything in between.
As users move through the process, they can interact in real time with data from any on-premise or cloud-based source they choose. In the example from the video, the user, Eric, chooses a likely prospect from a list of company contacts, and with a few keystrokes creates a new opportunity in Salesforce. In a further demonstration of the real-time capability, Eric performs a NetSuite query, logs a client call, escalates a case to customer service, pulls the latest price book information from an Oracle database, builds out the opportunity items, creates the order in SAP, and syncs it all back to Salesforce, all without leaving the wizard interface.
The capabilities available via Informatica Cloud’s application integration are a gigantic leap forward for business users and an evolutionary step toward pivoting the enterprise toward the customer. As 2015 takes hold we will see this become increasingly important as companies continue to invest in the cloud. This is especially true for those cloud applications, like the Salesforce Analytics, Marketing and Sales Clouds, that need immediate access to the latest and most reliable customer data to make them all work — and truly establish you as the CEO in charge of customer relationships.
I know it’s far too soon to be thinking of Christmas, but May is the most wonderful time of the year. That’s because it’s Informatica World week and I get the chance to experience the same tingle of anticipation watching the keynotes as I do on Christmas morning just before the big reveal. “You definitely live a sheltered life!” I hear you cry, but it’s true. In years past, Informatica World has proven to be the zenith of events in our cloud calendar, and this year so far, has not disappointed.
We began on Monday, or “Cloud Day“, with two banner events. The morning kicked off with the convening of the “Informatica Cloud Product Advisory Council,” hosted by the cloud product team. This exclusive event consisted of a select group of customers who volunteered their time to speak at “Cloud Day.”
Monday afternoon’s session was open to all Informatica World attendees and proved to be a great networking opportunity as industry peers, cloud integration experts and practitioners all mingled. But it didn’t stop there. There were also keynotes delivered by the industry experts on topics such as cloud security and Analytics and Salesforce integration. If you missed cloud day, take a look at Ashwin Viswanth’s entertaining recap here.
The cloud momentum continued on Tuesday with some fabulous breakout sessions. In particular Conde Nast and Informatica held a session that discussed strategies in moving to a hybrid IT architecture. Informatica product management delivered a well-attended “Informatica Cloud 101” session. The day ended with Qualcomm and Inside Track hosting a lively discussion that explained how they use Informatica Cloud to manage data synchronization between Salesforce and other applications.
Wednesday was the day that kept on giving. It was packed full of sessions on the cloud path and highlighted the breadth of the solution. It started with a fantastic case study from the Weather Channel (yes THAT weather channel). They explained what “cloud first” means to them, and in particular how they built a cloud data warehouse with Informatica Cloud that runs on Amazon’s Redshift.
Next came a road map session from the Informatica Cloud Product Management team. This session gave a look at what’s next for the world’s leading cloud data management platform. It focused on the new web-based process designer that will enable integration developers to build real-time process integrations. Next, ConocoPhillips held a session called “Journey to the Internet of Things with PowerCenter and Informatica Cloud”. Conoco Phillips explained how they use PowerCenter and Informatica Cloud to aggregate data from sensor-bearing oil wells across Alaska and Calgary!
Wednesday’s packed Cloud agenda came to a close with a session from Schneider-Electric and Corvisa Cloud who talked about how they use Informatica Cloud Real Time to improve the operational efficiency of their Salesforce.com implementations by leveraging real-time data.
“Phew! That’s a lot of Cloud expertise in one day”, you say. And I would totally agree. That’s goes to show that I wasn’t lying when I said that I’m excited to hear about all things cloud this week. And I’ve only got to Wednesday. For those of you keeping track, there’s still ANOTHER conference day left.
Today, Thursday, plays host to the last two cloud sessions. If your business relies on embedding data into your own applications, then you might want to check out “How Embedded iPaaS Can Transform Your Business”. This session is delivered by RMS who are the vendors of a financial trading application. They will explain how they create seamless and secure connections between its cloud-based suite of financial applications and its clients’ on-premise data sources by embedding Informatica Cloud. They will also discuss in detail how they interface with Informatica Cloud’s REST API’s.
The RMS session should provide enough technical meat for anyone, but if not then you should make your way to the last Informatica session of Informatica World 2014 (let’s all give a collective sigh that they week is almost over. AAAAWWWWWWHHHHHH). The honor of presenting the last session goes to the Informatica Cloud product management team. It’s seems as if we’ve come full circle.
The final session is called “Developing Advanced Integrations in the Cloud” and will show how the new cloud designer helps you aggregate and merge multiple data sources, use Vibe Integration Packages, and connect cloud applications to on-premises applications like Oracle EBS and SAP. The Cloud PM team always does fantastic demos, so this session will be worth missing your flight.
Phew, what a week! Hopefully by now you’ve realized why I think May is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. All sign along now… “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The cloud team is going and everyone’s knowing it’s nearly here… In-form-atica-World. Is nearly here!”