The New Data Wizard Is Here: Next Generation Salesforce Data Loader (and a whole lot more) for Business Users Everywhere
This week marks the official launch of the new, free Informatica Cloud Data Wizard on the Salesforce AppExchange. For the last month, we’ve been running the Data Wizard in Beta with customers and partners, and the feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. The Data Wizard replaces our popular Data Loader app, which has had a long run as one of the AppExchange’s highest rated free data loader apps. When we set out to design the next generation data loader, we wanted to redefine the category, not just roll out another upgrade. To accomplish that, we built the new Data Wizard on our core cloud integration platform, but focused on an even more intuitive, one-click user experience. In the process, we took a simple data-loading tool and turned it into a sophisticated native integration application inside of Salesforce, designed for Salesforce Admins and other business users. The result is something that solves the everyday integration needs of the majority of Salesforce business users and many of the basic use cases for even technical users. That’s welcome news to just about everyone in the Salesforce.com ecosystem – our beta surveys indicated that approximately 50% of Data Wizard beta users spend up to 10 hours a week on integration issues, and17% spend as many as 40 hours.
“Informatica Cloud’s new Data Wizard has been a real joy to work with! As a Salesforce Platinum Cloud Alliance Partner, we work every day with our customers on Salesforce implementation, customization, and integration. The biggest challenge we face is getting data into Salesforce. Because Informatica Cloud’s Data Wizard is natively built into Salesforce, it’s a breeze to load data into it from other sources. What’s more, some of the transformations provided within the Data Wizard help us resolve numerous data quality issues on the fly, which reduces implementation times for our customers.” says Astha Panchal, Integration Specialist, Silverline [put this in a block quote in the blog post]
Astha wasn’t the only Beta tester impressed with the new app’s features, we had a ton of great feedback from Salesforce Sales Consultants, business users from existing Informatica Cloud customers, and SI partners. More than 83% of testers loved the fact that they could access the Data Wizard directly from their Salesforce instance. The same number echoed their approval of the functionality that enables you to export or import a CSV file directly to or from a cloud storage application such as Box.
When we released the Wizard Beta last month, we said the app would change the landscape for data loaders with the three following innovations.
- Easy-to-use Excel-like transformations to eliminate the formatting issues typically associated with moving data in and out of Salesforce.
- Built-in intelligence to automate the mapping of data into Salesforce for a range of common use cases.
- Pre-built integration templates to make it possible to perform app-to-app integrations without any other utility or assistance from IT.
Since the Beta was released last month, users have been putting the Data Wizard and our claims to the test in every possible use case. The results speak for themselves.
We released the new Data Wizard with more than 300 built-in transformations. And Beta users have been taking advantage of them to do everything from synchronizing and conversion of data to concatenation and cleansing of their data on the fly, right from the Data Wizard application. User after user has expressed how important this is to them. One use case that has stood out has been the concatenation of address data. Many Beta testers have been using the function while importing lead address data into Salesforce, to ensure bad addresses or routed to the right queue and handled correctly.
Another innovation users are taking advantage of is the built-in intelligence. Many non-native applications code the date field as a string, which causes the Salesforce import to fail. Without the Data Wizard, restructuring the date field for Salesforce requires outside intervention, and additional time and inconvenience. With the Data Wizard, the date string is automatically transformed and brought into the opportunity object and validated, with no muss or fuss, or outside assistance.
Before the Data Wizard came along, app-to-app integration was something you could only get by using an integration app outside of Salesforce. Not so anymore. As the multitude of Beta testers have just discovered, the Wizard’s built-in integration templates allow you to accomplish many of the most common app-to-app integrations while importing your data into Salesforce. That, as many Beta users can attest, has come in very handy with the NetSuite to Salesforce use case in particular. As anyone who has ever tried to bring data from NetSuite into Salesforce knows, the shipping and billing address fields don’t match and getting them to align is no easy task. By leveraging our Cloud platform’s pre-built integration templates, the Wizard abstracts away the complexity of the transformation. With just the click of a few buttons, the user can take what are two separate objects in NetSuite and quickly and correctly restructure it as one object for Salesforce. Now when users invoice or ship from NetSuite, they can be assured they are pulling the correct shipping and billing address for that business or location from the master in Salesforce.
Now that the Data Wizard is out for general release, we’re already working on the next enhancements. Future releases will feature a fourth innovation in data intelligence: data management. Soon, in addition to data integration, you’ll be able to sync and cleanse data right from the Data Wizard interface. In the meantime, we invite you to take advantage of the three innovations in data intelligence available now, free from the Salesforce AppExchange.
The emergence of the business cloud is making the need for data ever more prevalent. Whatever your business, if your role is in the sales, marketing or service departments, chances are your productivity depends a great deal on the ability to move data quickly in and out of Salesforce and its ecosphere of applications.
With the in-built data transformation intelligence, the Data Wizard (click here to try the Beta version), changes the landscape of what traditional data loaders can do. The Data Wizard takes care of the following aspects, so that you don’t have to:
- Data Transformations: We built in over 300 standard data transformations so you don’t have to format the data before bringing it in (eg. combining first and last names into full names, adding numeric columns for totals, splitting address fields into its separate components).
- Built-in intelligence: We automate the mapping of data into Salesforce for a range of common use cases (eg., Automatically mapping matching fields, intelligently auto-generating date format conversions , concatenating multiple fields).
- App-to-app integration: We incorporated pre-built integration templates to encapsulate the logic required for integrating Salesforce with other applications (eg., single click update of customer addresses in a Cloud ERP application based on Account addresses in Salesforce) .
Unlike the other data loading apps out there, the Data Wizard doesn’t presuppose any technical ability on the part of the user. It was purpose-built to solve the needs of every type of user, from the Salesforce administrator to the business analyst.
Despite the simplicity the Data Wizard offers, it is built on the robust Informatica Cloud integration platform, providing the same reliability and performance that is key to the success of Informatica Cloud’s enterprise customers, who integrate over 5 billion rows of data per day. We invite you to try the Data Wizard for free, and contribute to the Beta process by providing us with your feedback.
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
Once upon a time, database schema changes were rare and handled with scrutiny. The stability of source data led to the development of the traditional Data Integration model. In this traditional model, a developer pulled a fixed number of source fields into an integration, transformed these fields, and then mapped the data into appropriate target fields.
The world of data has profoundly changed. Today’s Cloud applications allow an administrator to add custom fields to an object at a moment’s notice. Because source data is increasingly malleable, the traditional Data Integration model is no longer optimal. The Data Integration model must evolve.
Today’s integrations must dynamically adapt to ever-changing environments. (Webinar HERE)
To meet these demands, Informatica has built the Informatica Cloud Mapping Designer. The Mapping Designer provides power and adaptability to integrations through the “link rules” and “incoming field rules” features. Integration developers no longer need to deal with fields on a one-by-one basis. Cloud Designer allows the integration developer to specify a set of dynamic “rules” that tell the mapping how fields need to be handled.
For example, the default rule is “Include all fields”, which is both simple and powerful. The “all fields” rule dynamically resolves to bring in as many fields as exist at the source at run time. Regardless of how many new fields the application developer or database administrator may have thrown in to the source after the integration was developed, this simple rule can bring in all the new fields into the integration dynamically. This exponentially increases developer productivity, as the integration developer is not making modifications just to keep up with changes to the integration endpoints. Instead, the integration is “future proofed”.
Link rules can be defined in combination using both “includes” and “excludes” criteria. The rules can be of four types:
- Include or Exclude All fields
- Include or Exclude Fields of a particular datatype (example: String, numeric, decimal, datetime, blob etc)
- Include or Exclude Fields that fit a name pattern (example: any field that ends with “_c” or any field that starts with “Shipping_”)
- Include or Exclude Fields by a particular name (example: “Id”, “Name” etc)
Any combination of the link rules can be put together to create sophisticated dynamic rules for fields to flow.
Each transformation in the integration can specify the set of rules that determine what fields flow into that particular transformation. For example, if I need all custom fields from a Salesforce source to flow into a target, I would simply “Include fields by name pattern : suffixed with ‘_c’” – which is the naming convention for custom field names in Salesforce. In another example, If I need to perform standardization of date formats for all datetime fields in an expression, I can define a rule to “Include fields by datatype – datetime”.
The dynamic nature of the link rules is what empowers a mapping created in Informatica Cloud Designer to be easily converted into a highly reusable integration template through parameterization.
For example, the entire source object can be parameterized and the integration developer may focus on the core integration logic without having to worry about individual fields. For example I can build an integration for bringing data into a slowly changing dimension table in a datawarehouse and this integration can apply to any source object. When the integration is executed by substituting different source objects for the source parameter, the integration would work as expected since the logical rules can dynamically bring in the fields regardless of what the source object structure is. Now all of a sudden, an integration developer is only required to build one reusable integration template for replicating multiple objects to the datawarehouse and NOT dozens or even hundreds of such repeated integration mappings. Needless to say, maintenance is hugely optimized.
With the power of logically defining field propagation through an integration combined with the ability to parameterize just about any part of the integration logic, the Cloud Mapping Designer provides a unique and powerful platform for developing reusable end to end integration solutions (such as Opportunity to Order, Accounts load to Salesforce, SAP product catalog to Salesforce, File load to Amazon redshift etc). Such prebuilt end-to-end solutions or VIPs (Vibe Integration Packages) can be easily customized by any consuming customer to adapt to their unique environments and business needs by tweaking only certain configurations but largely reusing the core integration logic.
What could be better than building integrations… building far fewer integrations that are reusable and self-adapting
To learn more, join the upcoming Cloud Spring release Webinar on Thursday, March 13.