Use Case 1: Automating Manual Imports into Salesforce

We’ve talked about the general philosophy of centralizing data in Salesforce, and the advantages and challenges of making your CRM system your analytics platform and “single source of truth.” In this series of short blog posts, we focus on some of the use cases of apps to integrate data into Salesforce, both obvious and surprising.

What do you do if you want to integrate data into Salesforce, but don’t have the budget or IT resources for a data integration platform?

In many cases, someone in marketing is armed with CSV files, and manually imports data into Salesforce on a daily or weekly basis.

excel analytics

After all, Salesforce provides import wizards for Leads, Contacts or Accounts. And for importing data to other objects or custom objects, the Salesforce dataloader (or newer tools like Dataloader.io or Jitterbit) works pretty well.

But what happens if you forget to run the import, or are out sick?

And how much time are you spending preparing the CSV files, doing manual imports on a daily or weekly basis?

A new class of enterprise applications, like those Salesforce apps published by CloudAmp, make it simple to automate the importing of data into Salesforce. These apps also provide the data model (objects and fields) to receive the data, as well as reports and dashboards to display and make sense of the data.

GADashboard-Installation-9

These apps typically use modern webservices APIs, as well as OAUTH, so you can install them and get the automated data imports up and running in just a few clicks. Data is imported directly from the source into Salesforce, with no configuration or data connectors needed. And when data is being synced to Salesforce automatically, you can schedule reports or dashboards to be refreshed and/or emailed just after the import schedule, resulting in reporting that always shows the latest data with no human intervention needed.

For a small monthly subscription you not only save a lot of time, but the quality of your reports and completeness of your data improves as well. So put down those CSV files, and go check out the AppExchange today.

Feb 6 Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup

We had a record crowd for our February 6, 2013 Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup — more than 75 people showed up for networking and to see two demos of the latest Salesforce analytics technologies.

Meetup02-06-13

Thanks to Woopra for sponsoring the event, providing the food and drinks, and demoing their new Salesforce integration. Woopra’s ‘Customer Analytics” — the merger of web analytics and CRM data — is definitely worth checking out.

I was also able to demo CloudAmp’s Analytics Dashboards, and gave a live demonstration of how the app integrates Google Analytics data directly into Salesforce and displays it in native Salesforce dashboards and reports. Videos of both demos are embedded below.

Thanks to Rackspace as usual for allowing us to use their Racker Rally Room at the San Francisco office, much appreciated.

The videos below are by Aline. For all your video blog needs contact her at 415 377 0245

John Whiteside, Woopra

John Whiteside is VP of Sales at Woopra. Mr Whiteside brings experience in Salesforce Integration and Analytics from positions at IBM, Cast Iron Systems and Boomi. Mr Whiteside was also Founder at DSLnetworks, one of the first ISP companies to deliver nationwide broadband access to enterprise companies.

John Whiteside will be demoing Woopra’s new Salesforce integration. Woopra is a real-time customer analytics service that provides solutions for sales, service, marketing and product teams. The platform is designed to help organizations optimize the entire customer lifecycle by delivering live, granular behavioral data for individual website visitors and customers. It ties individual-level data to aggregate analytics reports for a full lifecycle view that bridges departmental gaps.

David Hecht, CloudAmp

David Hecht is Founder of CloudAmp LLC, a Salesforce application, analytics and dashboard company focused on helping marketing and sales professionals improve their inbound funnel. David has been a Salesforce user and administrator since 2002, and has managed sales teams and inbound marketing organizations using Salesforce at startups such as Cloudkick and GoGrid. He is a Salesforce Certified Administrator, and is also the organizer of the Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup, a networking event and new technology showcase held every other month in San Francisco.

David will be demoing his CloudAmp Dashboard for Google Analytics, a Salesforce app which lets you easily see top level web traffic metrics from Google Analytics, directly in Salesforce in a standard dashboard. It was released in December 2012.

Google Analytics data into Salesforce: A Method to the Madness

When I tell people that one of my main goals in business is to centralize all marketing and sales data in Salesforce, sometimes I am met with strange looks.

“Why would you want to do that?”

“Aren’t you worried about all the limitations of Salesforce?”

“Why don’t you use real analytics and and business intelligence tools?”

While many businesses pull data out of Salesforce and other systems to store in a BI tool, data warehouse, marketing automation system, or even just a spreadsheet, I believe that data centralization inside Salesforce for all of your marketing and sales tools is the future.

data_silos2

I’ve even put my “money where my mouth is” as the saying goes, and focused my company CloudAmp on building apps that integrate data to display it in Salesforce Dashboards, in order to provide better analytics around the sales and marketing funnel.

Our CloudAmp Dashboard for Google Analytics connects to Google Analytics and then imports data automatically each day to display in a dashboard. Relatively straightforward (though not without some technical hurdles), yet no one had integrated web analytics data from Google Analytics into Salesforce in this way before.

Here are some of the challenges around centralizing marketing / sales data and analytics inside of Salesforce, as well some of the advantages to integrating and using that data inside of Salesforce that make it a worthy goal.

Salesforce Limitations

Salesforce has a number of limitations over external data warehouses and analytics tools. This is a valid concern for some applications, but in many cases these limitations can be overcome, or the value of integrating data into Salesforce outweighs the limitations.

1. Lack of functionality. For big data analytics, where very large amounts of data need to be processed, or complex analytical queries across multiple data sources are required, using Salesforce may not be possible. But for many uses, especially in the small / medium business (SMB) market, Salesforce works just fine.

Salesforce’s reporting and dashboard engine has come a long way, especially with the Spring 2012 Analytics release (Joined Reports, Cross Filters, and Bucketing — available in Enterprise Edition).

There are certainly many more features that can be added, and I know the Salesforce analytics team has a lot of increased functionality still on its product roadmap. But most basic data analysis and reporting queries are now covered, all within an interface that many Salesforce administrators and users are already familiar with (and paying for).

SalesforceAnalytics

2. Storage and API constraints. Salesforce does have caps on storage and API calls that at best could be called not very generous, at worst are a decade behind current standards. So if you are looking to import large amounts of data, it can be tricky.

You don’t want to have to pay for additional storage, but even more likely is hitting your API limit — at 1000 API calls/user/day, even if your integration is efficient and uses the bulk or SOAP APIs for some large data loads, it is easy to come up against the limit.

This means for many businesses, you will still need an external database or data warehouse to store much of this data, but it does not mean that you can’t integrate it into Salesforce. You may just need to be selective in what data you import, or just push calculated metrics into Salesforce rather than all the raw data.

Salesforce-API-Limitations

3. More difficult than Spreadsheets. Many marketing and sales people don’t use complex business intelligence tools but choose Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets to run their analyses.

There are certainly challenges to modeling conversion data in Salesforce — creating formula fields and setting up the reports correctly in Salesforce is quite a bit harder for most of us than creating spreadsheets.

It also takes more work to record historical snapshots in Salesforce — by default it always displays the latest data, whereas spreadsheets tend to be more static. But Salesforce can be updated by many people without versioning issues (certainly possible in Google Spreadsheets but still tricky), and always being updated to show the latest data is a real asset in many situations.

Many companies find that spreadsheets in practice get updated once a month, or maybe the 15th and 30th of the month in a best case scenario. So a Salesforce dashboard, even updating once a day and being automatically emailed to you, has a much greater chance of alerting you to trends you should know about, or problems with an advertising campaign etc. that would be a serious issue to find out about 30 days later.

Benefits of Data in Salesforce

Despite the limitations above, there are a  number added benefits come from centralizing data inside Salesforce.

1. Single Source of Truth. The most common reason to centralize data in Salesforce has been a goal of CRM systems since before Salesforce existed — have all your data in one place, a “single source of truth” for any information that might be relevant to your customers.

This may seem an impossible goal, with data living in so many different systems typically. But with today’s APIs, it is getting easier to integrate data from various SaaS applications into Salesforce. And to simplify the integration, it can often be done as a one-way push into Salesforce, rather than a bi-directional sychronization.

Having data from multiple sources inside Salesforce can give your team a 360 degree view of the customer, and reduce the need to log into disparate systems — or even better, allow them to easily view data that they might have skipped in the past, due to the inconvenience of it being in another system.

GoogleAnalyticsSalesforceLeadsDashboard

2. Self-Service Analytics. When external data sources are inside Salesforce, in addition to providing a fuller view of the customer that data now becomes accessible to a wider audience and can be used for more purposes.

The marketing team can run some its own queries and create reports on the fly to better understand the data, and selected data can be exposed to the sales team, giving them a fuller picture of their prospects and customers where they might need it.

If you want to see data on a particular issue that comes up, it is pretty easy to create a new report, or modify and save as an existing one. Depending on your sharing and security model, I have even seen organizations where enterprising salespeople create their own reports to better understand their customers or go deeper into areas where they think there may be opportunities.

Power-to-the-People-Dashboard

3. Use Data for Multiple Needs. When multiple data sources are brought into Salesforce, it not only becomes more accessible but can often be used for multiple purposes. For example, integrating data from an external chat tool is useful not only to customer support for case tracking, but can be used by marketing as another data point in lead scoring. In technical pre-sales situations that make use of online chat, this could be a deciding factor in scoring purchasing intent.

Coming back to our Google Analytics example, bringing web site traffic data into Salesforce from Google Analytics can be useful on many levels. There are some challenges to exposing this data inside of Salesforce, because the Google Analytics terms of service do not allow for uniquely idenitifying site visitors, so web traffic data will not typically align on a customer account level basis like most data in Salesforce (though CloudAmp has another app to help with that problem).

conversion-funnel2

However, even in aggregate, Google Analytics data exposed within Salesforce can provide a more complete view of the sales and marketing funnel, starting at the very top. Viewing unique visitors, page views, and other web analytics metrics in a dashboard alongside your other sales and marketing dashboards is useful in providing additional visibility. If you have a spike in lead volume, you can quickly see if that corresponds to a spike in web site traffic, or whether there are other factors at play.

So those are some of the challenges and advantages to integrating and centralizing data in Salesforce.

Maybe we are a bit early to this party, by building simple apps that push data into Salesforce, so anyone can do it without a complex integration project. I certainly hope not, as I think there is tremendous business value here.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or contact us.

Dec. 5 Meetup: SiSense and Import2

Our December 5, 2012 Salesforce Integration & Analytics meetup marked a full year (the 6th time) of our new get together.

To mark the occasion we had great demos from SiSense and Import2. Videos and slides are below.

Thanks to SiSense for sponsoring the food and beer, and Rackspace for providing the meeting space as always.

Want to hear about future meetups? Register now.

Bruno Aziza, SiSense

Bruno Aziza is the VP of Marketing at SiSense.  He is experienced in the business intelligence and analytics space, having worked at in companies of all sizes in France, Germany, and the UK as well as in the United States.  Bruno will give a brief overview and demo of SiSense Prism, a user-friendly analytics solution which allows Salesforce users to add data from Google Analytics, AdWords, SQL server, and other sources to get real insight.  He’ll cover the basic steps, from building an ElastiCube to setting up pivot tables and other custom data visualization types in the BI Studio, and finally produce a Prism Web dashboard featuring data from Salesforce and other sources.

Bruno’s Presentation:

Mark Kofman, Import2

Mark is CEO and co-founder of Import2.com, an online data migration service that helps businesses move data between cloud apps. He will be speaking about best practices and tools for Salesforce data migration. He’ll go through frequently asked questions about importing your data into Salesforce, and how to import all accounts, contact and sales activity history into Salesforce from other CRMs, such as Zoho, Sugar CRM, or Highrise.

CloudAmp Update: New App, New Focus, New Sister Company

New App

CloudAmp’s first App, the Google Analytics Campaign Tracker, launched this week on the Salesforce AppExchange.
Google Analytics Campaign Tracker Dashboard
This simple app shows you where your best leads are coming from, by capturing referral URLs when your web site visitors submit a form. Plus you get a preconfigured dashboard and analytics. Check it out >

New Focus

If I haven’t tried to pitch you recently, in 2012 CloudAmp refocused around the Salesforce ecosystem.

In addition to working on several applications for the Salesforce AppExchange, I’ve been doing a fair bit of consulting, focused on helping Startups use Salesforce CRM to manage their lead funnel, sales processes, and generally make sense of high volumes of inbound inquiries.

Selected CloudAmp Customers
I’ve had a lot of fun working with customers like Iron.ioHeyoTrigger.ioZeroCater, and more. If you know of any early stage companies who could use advice on Salesforce and sales processes, I would appreciate your referrals.  More on our Customers > 

New Sister Company

Just to keep things interesting, in September of this year a friend and I established a new company called AppFrontier, and acquired the established payment processing application Chargent from its developer.
Chargent by AppFrontier
Chargent enables you to instantly charge credit cards directly from inside Salesforce, on a one-time or recurring basis, with no 3rd party integration or terminals required.

With an established customer base of small businesses and nonprofits, we are finding lots of uses for payment processing embedded right inside of opportunities in Salesforce. Visit AppFrontier.com Now >

Oct 17 Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup

We had a big crowd for the October 17, 2012 Salesforce Integration and Analytics Meetup. As usual there was networking from 5-6:30, one of my favorite parts as we draw a diverse group — from Salesforce implementation firms, consultants and Salesforce MVPs / trainers,  to people new to the Salesforce ecosystem — MBA students, people who just arrived in San Francisco, and SAP or business intelligence experts wondering what all the fuss is about. We finished the night with two short demos of the Informatica Cloud, and new startup Ecquire.

Thanks to Informatica for sponsoring the event and providing the food and drinks, and Rackspace for hosting us as usual in their San Francisco offices.

Special thanks to Aline Dinoia of FrenchAmericanTV for taking the videos below.

To be notified of future events, just sign up on Meetup.com – it is free.

Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup10-17-12

Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup10-17-12

 

About our Speakers

Ashwin Viswanath

Ashwin Viswanath is responsible for platform product marketing for Informatica Cloud. He is an accomplished platform product marketer and product manager with several years’ industry experience in Fortune 500 enterprise software companies such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Oracle. Ashwin will be demo’ing Informatica Cloud’s Integration Templates, which is one component of their overall integration PaaS. If we have any time left, he may also demo their basic Data Loader.You can follow Ashwin on Twitter @Ash__V.

Toan Dang

Toan Dang is the Director of Marketing at Ecquire. Ecquire is a new productivity tool that automates data entry to Salesforce and other cloud services. With one click, capture contacts, tasks, and messages from anywhere and send them to the right acount in your CRM. Ecquire automatically creates new contacts, updates existing ones, and logs activities and tasks. Toan will be demoing Ecquire’s integration with Salesforce, and how it can capture data from Gmail, Linkedin, Facebook, & Twitter into Salesforce.

August 23 Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup

We had two great demos and a good-sized crowd for our fourth meetup. The Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup is a free event open to everyone. Greek / Middle Eastern food and beer, wine and soft drinks were provided — thanks to our sponsor Jitterbit!

Register here to learn about future meetups.

Thanks as always to Aline Dinoia from frenchamericantv.com for taking the videos below.

David Brenegan
Jitterbit

David Brenegan is the Director of Sales Consulting at Jitterbit. He has over 20 years of enterprise class software engineering experience in SaaS, PaaS, SOA and Cloud Solutions. Prior to joining Jitterbit, David has held positions at IBM Cast Iron, Oracle and BEA Systems.

David Brenegan will introduce us to the next generation Data Loader for Salesforce. This discussion is geared towards Salesforce users who are looking for a solution to quickly and easily move data in and out of Salesforce, as well as synchronize their other cloud and on-premise applications with their CRM. The Jitterbit Data Loader for Salesforce is a free data migration tool that enables Salesforce administrators to quickly and easily automate the import and export of data between flat files, databases, and Salesforce. Also, users will learn how to connect their ERP data with Salesforce, as well as enable business processes between their other cloud and on-premise applications.

Jelle van Geuns
Decisions on Demand

Decisions on Demand provides a simpler and more powerful way to manage business rules in Salesforce. Users edit rules in a spreadsheet, without IT support, and deploy them with a few clicks. With peace of mind, knowing that changes are versioned and can be rolled back easily.

Jelle van Geuns, Founder and CEO of Decisions on Demand, will demo the product, which is currently in private beta and will go live on the AppExchange soon.

Prior to starting Decisions on Demand, Jelle built business rules management solutions for 10 years at ILOG and IBM. He held senior technical leadership positions and specialized in strategic partner integrations, industry solutions and professional services.

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