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Bulletproof Tips to Optimize Data Transformations for Salesforce

Optimize Data Transformations for Salesforce

Optimize Data Transformations for Salesforce

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

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Posted in Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do CIOs think about when integrating Salesforce?

Viswanath_0416Salesforce.com is one of the most widely used cloud applications across every industry. Initially, Salesforce gained dominance from mid-market customers due to the agility and ease of deployment that the SaaS approach delivered. A cloud-based CRM system enabled SMB companies to easily automate sales processes that recorded customer interactions during the sales cycle and scale without costly infrastructure to maintain. This resulted in faster growth, thereby showing rapid ROI of a Salesforce deployment in most cases.

The Eye of the Enterprise

When larger enterprises saw the rapid growth that mid-market players had achieved, they realized that Salesforce was a unique technology enabler capable of helping their businesses to also speed time to market and scale more effectively. In most enterpises, the Salesforce deployments were driven by line-of-business units such as Sales and Customer Service, with varying degrees of coordination with central IT groups – in fact, most initial deployments of Salesforce orgs were done fairly autonomously from central IT.

With Great Growth Comes Greater Integration Challenges

When these business units needed to engage with each other to run cross functional tasks, the lack of a single customer view across the siloed Salesforce instances became a problem. Each individual Salesforce org had its own version of the truth and it was impossible to locate where in the sales cycle each customer was in respect to each business unit. As a consequence, cross-selling and upselling became very difficult. In short, the very application that was a key technology enabler for growth was now posing challenges to meet business objectives.

Scaling for Growth with Custom Apps

While many companies use the pre-packaged functionality in Salesforce, ISVs have also begun building custom apps using the Force.com platform due to its extensibility and rapid customization features. By using Salesforce to build native applications from the ground up, they could design innovative user interfaces that expose powerful functionality to end users. However, to truly add value, it was not just the user interface that was important, but also the back-end of the technology stack. This was especially evident when it came to aggregating data from several sources, and surfacing them in the custom Force.com apps.

On April 23rd at 10am PDT, you’ll hear how two CIOs from two different companies tackled the above integration challenges with Salesforce: Rising Star finalist of the 2013 Silicon Valley Business Journal CIO Awards, Eric Johnson of Informatica, and Computerworld’s 2014 Premier 100 IT Leaders, Derald Sue of InsideTrack.

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Posted in Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Cloud Computing, SaaS | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Improve Efficiencies in Test Data Management

According to analysts[1], users spend the majority of the application development lifecycle in development and testing and the least amount of time in quality management and documentation. This is probably not very shocking to anyone in QA or on a testing team. But how much time is actually spent on test data management?  In a recent webinar, more than half of the listeners polled say they spend between 30-40% of their effort on ‘data related tasks.’ (more…)

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Posted in Application ILM, Cloud Computing, Data masking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Case for Universal MDM: The Federation of Point-MDM Solutions

I’m at Barcelona this week for the European Gartner MDM Summit. I had a chance to catch up with one of the Gartner MDM analysts before the event, and we had a discussion about the growth of MDM.  He mentioned that MDM will become pervasive within the enterprise as organizations expand its use as a necessary foundation for governing all of their business-critical master data such as customers, products, and so on.

To solve their business problems accurately, companies seek targeted MDM solutions. For e.g., retail, distribution, and manufacturing companies use PIM for merchandising, distributing products, and supplier on-boarding, while financial services, healthcare, and high tech companies use customer MDM with their CRM, such as salesforce.com, for improving customer segmentation, cross-sell , and up-sell. (more…)

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Salesforce.com Recognizes Informatica for Cloud Data Integration

This week we got the news that for the fifth year in a row, Informatica Cloud has won the 2012 Salesforce.com AppExchange Customer Choice Award.  Informatica Cloud Integration for Salesforce was recognized as the winner in the very crowded IT and Administration category, which includes administration and IT, data cleansing, integration, IT management and other applications.These awards are based on the number and quality of customer reviews on the AppExchange.  (more…)

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud Computing, Customers, Data Quality, Data Synchronization, Marketplace, News & Announcements, PaaS, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2013 Cloud Data Management Predictions

Ok, I know it’s a little late to post 2013 technology predictions, but with so many good ones published already, I figured I’d sandbag a little and not only post a few of my own but also share a few of my favorites so far. For me, it starts with Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends presentation. 2013 is going to be a year of “re-imagining” enterprise software, from social, to mobile, to cloud, to Big Data and Analytics.

I summarized my 2012 predictions in an earlier post and Informatica already posted some great predictions from the world of data. Here are my 2013 cloud data management predictions. (more…)

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Posted in Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Data Management, Integration Competency Centers, Master Data Management, PaaS, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Data at the Center of the Customer Experience Innovation

I attended Forrester’s Customer Experience conference a couple of weeks ago to get up to speed on how different companies are changing their processes and culture to truly put the customer at the center of their world. Concepts such as voice of the customer, the buyer’s journey, and moments of truth were tossed around like popcorn. The high bar set at the conference was to achieve empathy with the customer in order to deliver true customer experience innovations. Beyond such lofty concepts, there was also a lot of discussion about the underlying practical matter of gathering the relevant data about customers in order to build the knowledge and understanding essential to creating that empathy. (more…)

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Posted in Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customer Services, Customers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cloud Integration Predictions – The Year in Review

For the past few years I’ve been posting my cloud integration predictions. It’s always interesting to look back to see what transpired and evaluate where I scored well and where I was off base. Here’s how I did in 2011: 2011 #Cloud Integration Predictions in Review. My 2012 cloud integration predictions centered around Data as a Service, Master Data Management, Business Intelligence and enterprise IT adoption of all flavors of cloud computing. Before I throw my hat into the 2013 predictions ring, here’s a review of 2012.

(more…)

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Posted in CIO, Cloud Computing, Master Data Management, PaaS, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How Migrating Customer Data from Legacy CRM to Salesforce is Like Moving to a New Home

After returning from Dreamforce, I learned that two of my friends were moving to new homes. They used different approaches to moving their belongings and had vastly different experiences once they moved in. This made me think of the different approaches companies use when migrating customer data from a legacy CRM system to Salesforce and the impact these approaches have on their user experience when they go live.

One friend, let’s call her “Jane” is not the most organized person. Her goal was to get her family’s belongings into the new house as quickly as possible. Room by room, they packed all of their belongings into boxes and shipped them to their new home.

(more…)

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Posted in Cloud Computing, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Master Data Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lacking Data Integration, Cloud Computing Suffers

The findings of the Cloud Market Maturity study, a survey conducted jointly by Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and ISACA, show that government regulations, international data privacy, and integration with internal systems dominate the top 10 areas where trust in the cloud is at its lowest.

The Cloud Market Maturity study examines the maturity of cloud computing and helps identify market changes. In addition, the report provides detailed information on the adoption of cloud services at all levels within global companies, including senior executives. (more…)

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Posted in Cloud Computing, Data Integration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments