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Salesforce analytics makes a splash; cloud big data users skew to Web

Dreamforce 2014 was all about Wave, Salesforce.com's new business intelligence application that runs on the company's Salesforce1 application platform. It's mobile-friendly, the cloud CRM vendor said. It's dynamic, it's easy to use, it's "analytics for everyone." Salesforce even brought in the kings of 1960s surf rock, the Beach Boys, to drive the point home: Salesforce's Wave is the one to ride.

In this episode of BizApps Today, host Joe Hebert talks with Lauren Horwitz, executive editor for SearchCRM, about the offering, also known as the Salesforce Analytics Cloud. To be sure, she says, a current of excitement ran through the crowd of 140,000 attendees at the user conference in San Francisco. Wave lets business execs slice and dice vast amounts of data directly in Salesforce1, Horwitz says -- so no more exporting to Excel or another application. And Salesforce heralds it as an intuitive tool anyone can use to visualize data from a variety of vantage points.

"The app enables users to create a pie chart, say, then turn the data into a bar or drilldown from national to local sales in seconds," Horwitz tells Hebert.

But the enthusiasm Horwitz saw at Dreamforce over Wave was tempered with a fair dose of caution. For example, she spoke with Heath Hensley, CTO at PowerDMS, a software vendor in Orlando, Fla. PowerDMS uses the Salesforce1 platform, so Wave would be an ideal choice for an analytics tool. But the company isn't ready to buy. "We have to make sure we can justify the investment -- that's the biggest question mark," Hensley says in an audio clip recorded at the conference. "From our research, it seems like a good fit, but it's going to come down to price."

Hebert also interviews Craig Stedman, an executive editor for Business Information magazine. Its October issue canvasses the cloud for big data platform users -- and finds that the population is still low. "I don't think anyone is likely to feel too claustrophobic in there. Overall, it's still only a minority of big data users," Stedman says.

Internet companies often pick the cloud for their big data needs, according to Stedman. As an example, he cites online marketing and analytics services vendor Sellpoints, which uses a Hadoop-as-a-service offering on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud to process consumer Web-activity data. And some big organizations are in the cloud as well -- like The Weather Channel, which runs a NoSQL database on AWS.

But what about large numbers of mainstream companies? Not yet, Stedman tells Hebert. "A lot of other traditional enterprises are either keeping their pools of big data out of the cloud altogether -- due to things like data integration challenges and security and privacy concerns -- or they're building private clouds."

Text by Jason Sparapani, managing editor for e-publications. Email him at jsparapani@techtarget.com and follow us on Twitter: @sDataManagement.

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