Salesforce cozies up with big data buddies to improve analytics service

May 28, 2015, 12:00 PM UTC
Marc Benioff Fortune Brainstorm Tech dinner Las Vegas 2015
Fortune senior editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff at a Fortune Brainstorm Tech dinner in Las Vegas on Jan. 5, 2015.
Photograph by Bryan Haraway — Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Big companies manage a proliferation of data across systems both inside and beyond their own server rooms. That’s the good news and the bad news. More data can be valuable, but only if the right people can make sense of it.

Now Salesforce and new best pals Google, Cloudera, Hortonworks, New Relic, Informatica, and Trifacta are working to make it easier to move data into and out of Salesforce’s Wave analytics cloud for further analysis, poking and prodding.

The companies are developing a series of connectors that will, say, make it easier for a marketing person to retrieve Salesforce data, pump it into Cloudera Hadoop or Google (GOOG) BigQuery to run queries against it, and then bring it back into other applications. In theory, that means an executive can combine and analyze disparate data sets to fine-tune marketing and sales campaigns.

For example, a marketing chief could pinpoint patterns between product usage logs in Cloudera or Hortonworks (HDP) and customer demographics from Salesforce (CRM). If customer usage on a particular product lags, the marketer could figure out some sort of promotion to remedy that. Or maybe the development team can figure out what’s wrong with the product and fix it.

The news here is that the six companies mentioned above have joined Salesforce’s partner ecosystem and will release connectors to make this data collaboration possible. Timing of connector availability depends on the provider, although many of them are already ready, at least in test form, Keith Bigelow, senior vice president and general manager, of Salesforce Analytics Cloud told Fortune.

The various connectors themselves will be free. The idea is that they will inspire more use of various paid services offered by all the parties, Bigelow said. Tech-savvy customers could already build or “roll their own” integrations between Wave and the rest of the world. “we’re just trying to simplify and automate that,” he said.

This really could be a win-win situation. Salesforce holds a ton of customer data that could be parsed by Google or Cloudera or Trifacta’s services. Google, for example, has a slate of muscular tools in BigQuery, BigTable, and DataFlow but is still looking for traction in big business shops. Salesforce has plenty of big business customers. You can see the possible mutual advantage there.

“We think we have the best big data services and Salesforce has lots of behavioral data,” said Adam Massey, director of cloud ecosystem for Google.

Salesforce Wave analytics is the newest of Salesforce’s six “clouds,” launched six months ago. The company does not break out revenue or customer count for it. Indeed, Salesforce is still primarily known as a customer relationship management (CRM) provider, the banner it launched under 15 years ago. But the company, under Co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff, is trying like mad to get customers to use more of its marketing, service, and analytics tools as well.
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