Dear Salesforce, haven’t I been a good, objective, reasonable, helpful industry analyst? Why would you make my life more difficult?

For years, clients have been reaching out with the following question: If a significant portion of all my enterprise data comes from SAP or Oracle business applications (ERP, CRM, etc.), should SAP BW/4HANA or Oracle Fusion Analytics Warehouse act as (A) one of many sources for an enterprise data warehouse [EDW] or (B) my ONLY enterprise data warehouse?

There’s no simple answer to that question. Choosing Option A requires a fine-grained understanding of SAP/Oracle data schemas and metadata in order to extract and transform data. Quite a bit of metadata is buried in application layer logic, however, so simply querying DBMS tables doesn’t work. And extraction of the data is just the beginning of a perilous journey — next comes data transformation and integration. Good luck integrating and reconciling data coming from SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and other enterprise business apps. That is as much art as it is science … and mostly the realm of consultants. Oh, and did I forget to mention that data warehouses seldom support operational reporting well? Clients tend to go back to the ERP/CRM reporting for their reporting.

Option B is no less perilous. Each ERP/CRM platform has its own unique approach to handling hierarchies, delta updates, entity relationships, etc. Trying to ingest and integrate external data into these proprietary structures, processes, and logic is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole — another windfall for the consultants.

Every time I get a client inquiry on these topics, I sigh because I know there’s no easy answer. Now comes Salesforce Genie Customer Data Cloud. It is an EDW and analytics platform that:

  • Is based on Tableau’s Hyper DBMS running on Salesforce infrastructure (storage and compute).
  • Enables the integration of Salesforce and external data (via new Genie native and MuleSoft connectors and integration capabilities) via either physical ingest or data virtualization (so that you can leave some data in other popular DW like Snowflake without making copies).
  • Has Tableau acting as the analytics and data visualization front end.
  • Natively supports publishing analytics/data visualizations to Salesforce’s Lightning UX (this is especially important since we predict that most data/analytics needs to be consumed in systems of work rather than in analytical applications).

Thank you, Salesforce. I expect tons of client inquiries on this topic for which, alas, I may not have clear answers. Don’t misunderstand me — this is great news for clients who have been asking us for years how to deliver enterprise analytics within the Salesforce UX. There weren’t great options beyond lots and lots of coding and integration work. Now there is: Salesforce Genie. But enterprise clients will have yet another data architecture dilemma: whether to start using Salesforce Genie across the enterprise rather than just Salesforce analytics.

Have more questions? I reluctantly 😊 offer an opportunity to schedule an inquiry with me.