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By Gary Strader, Senior Consultant

Many of our Salesforce.com customers reach a point in their sales reporting maturity where the built in reporting and analytics features of Salesforce.com are no longer meeting their needs.  As consultants at Bardess Group, our job is to find the best solution that meets our customers’ advanced and unique requirements.  As a TIBCO Spotfire consulting partner, we frequently recommend Spotfire as a sales analytics tool, due to its deep integration with Salesforce.com and its advanced data discovery features. In this post, I am going to provide a scenario of how Spotfire has solved the needs of a typical customer with sales reporting challenges.

Salesforce.com has easy to use built-in reporting features, but it is limited by several things.  First, it’s a traditional reporting system that most people are familiar with.  You design a report, choose filters, run the report, and wait for the report to generate, which sometimes takes minutes to get results.  All the reports you build are independent of each other, and most organizations end up with hundreds if not thousands of reports, resulting in report clutter.  The traditional tabular reports and static chart interface don’t lend themselves well to data discovery.  Second, because Salesforce.com is a “software as a service” (SaaS) product, it makes it challenging to integrate disparate data sources from your ERP, custom databases, spreadsheets, etc., to provide a unified 360 degree view of your organization’s data.

Spotfire can help this situation in several ways.  The first way Spotfire can help is from its deep integration with Salesforce.com.  We integrate Spotfire into a custom tab, which means that sales reps and managers don’t have to navigate to a separate application.  We provide “single sign on” (SSO), so that sales users don’t have to remember separate credentials.  The goal of this is to make it as easy as possible for your salespeople to get the analytics they need.  When a user drills down, we provide a link to the opportunity so that they can take immediate action from their analysis.

Spotfire has a modern intuitive user interface that helps users find patterns and associations in their data that they didn’t know existed.  Users can dynamically resize the panes that contain the charts.  This means that no matter what size the device is, Spotfire will automatically resize it to fit.  It works particularly well on an iPad for this reason.  Spotfire also uses a unique method to show associations in your data.  When you place filters on fields, Spotfire grays out the values in other fields that are not associated.  In this way, it’s possible to understand relationships in your data that you didn’t know existed, and to spot data anomalies so you can fix them.  These things are possible because of the associative view of the data.

Spotfire has built-in pipeline forecasting capabilities that don’t require a sales manager to have statistical expertise.  They can just pick a forecasting method and run it.  Spotfire can do this because it has open source R built into it, and provides you with a number of pre-built statistics methods so that you don’t have to write any code.

It is beneficial for sales managers to collaborate with their peers on trends and insights they see in their sales pipeline.  For example, perhaps our sales manager has noticed that overall sales are going up, but sales in a particular territory have been trending down for several months. Spotfire provides a way for that manager to start a discussion with the territory manager that’s specific to that subject area in the analysis.  You can embed Chatter, TIBCO Tibbr, or any other collaboration product that your organization uses directly into the Spotfire analysis.

Another common scenario for using Spotfire with Salesforce.com is integrating other data sources.  A specific example is a customer that wants to see pipeline trending, bookings, quota, and other data sources that are not stored in Salesforce.com.  Before using Spotfire, their sales operations group spent days every month manually importing data from the multiple sources into Excel charts.  Upon using Spotfire, they are able to automate the process and have it automatically appear with the custom Spotfire tab in their Salesforce.com org.  Now sales managers can easily see pipeline trending, booking, and quota in a unified 360 degree view.

In summary, Spotfire is an ideal tool to improve our customers’ sales analytics capabilities with its deep integration and modern and intuitive interface.  It’s a true data discovery product that enables sales managers to see the associations and hidden insights in their organization’s full universe of data sources.

To learn more about Spotfire, please visit our website.


About the Author
Gary Strader is a senior consultant for Bardess Group Ltd.  He has been working with various aspects of data management and analysis for over fifteen years.  Gary contributes his expertise to Bardess for pre-sales, solution architecture, development, administration and training.  He is certified as a developer and administrator in QlikView and TIBCO Spotfire.  Gary’s primary focus is finding optimal solutions to solve Bardess customer data problems.