Huge amounts of various data are generated by businesses and nonprofits on a daily basis, and the rate at which it accumulates grows exponentially. This information can equip decision-makers with critical and actionable insights into customer behavior, employee performance, marketing campaigns efficiency and more. This invaluable information can be used to:
- increase productivity and general operational efficiency;
- discover strengths and weaknesses of a business and align the strategy accordingly;
- improve customer relationships.
However, simply taking a look at raw data won’t do any good – first, it needs to be properly analyzed and then presented in a digestible way. In fact, it is vital that the results of the analysis are clear and memorable. According to an MIT research, up to 90% of information that the brain perceives is in a visual form.
Big data analytics techniques, such as machine learning, data mining, natural language processing, and predictive analytics allow processing diverse information quickly and efficiently. And data visualization tools help represent the information derived from business intelligence software in a meaningful way, thus eliminating the need to manually sift through data trying to spot trends, patterns and deviations. Let’s take a look at how visual thinking developed over years to achieve its today’s form, why it’s so important for businesses and then focus on specific examples and use cases of data visualization in Salesforce.
Brief History of Data Visualization
The term ‘data visualization’ has been coined relatively recently – in the 20th century. It’s pretty obvious though that the idea of representing information visually is not so new. Let’s take Marshallese stick charts, one of the best examples of ancient data visualization. Ancient people from the Marshall Islands used wood, coconut fiber and shells to make charts showing the location of islands, waves and currents in the Pacific. Even back then, the charts were highly personalized, to the point that a chart would be decipherable only to the person who created it. Interestingly, this invention helped ancient mariners navigate thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean without any compasses or other devices up until the World War II ended.
Other examples of simple data visualization tools from the ancient history include Mesopotamian accounting tokens, some dating back to as early as 5500 BC, Inca quipus (2600 BC), and Egyptian navigation tables containing astrological information (2nd century).
One of the people who played a significant role in the evolution of data visualization is William Playfair (1759–1823), an engineer and economist from Scotland. It was he who invented the line and bar chart we all know.
During the Crimean War (1853–1856), Florence Nightingale kept death toll records in the form of diagrams, which helped her identify the most frequent causes of death and thus save soldiers’ lives.
In 1854, during an epidemic of cholera in London, physician John Show drew a map of the city with indications of cholera deaths. The map showed a concentration of deaths in one spot, and that is how the cause of the epidemic was found.
Early 20th century marks the start of widespread use of data visualization in magazines and newspapers. Then, the rise of computer technology brought data visualization to a completely different level.
Today, it’s hard to imagine a single report at a company without the use of dashboards, charts, diagrams and maps. Moreover, as more and more businesses start to realize the immense power of data, software providers strive to keep up with the demand and offer advanced data visualization solutions for their customers. Salesforce didn’t remain aloof to the trend, moreover, as a leading CRM software provider, Salesforce pioneered the CRM market with advanced artificial intelligence powered data visualization tools.
Salesforce Data Visualization Software
Sales and marketing departments produce tons of data every day, and at the same time they may use previously accumulated information on client profiles, sales volumes, customer support requests, etc., to both perform day-to-day activities and make strategic decisions. While it might seem that using such advanced tools requires strong mathematical background or programming skills, with Salesforce it’s much easier than that. Salesforce offers limitless opportunities to process this information in just a few mouse clicks, by using a blend of solutions.
Einstein Analytics – Salesforce Analytics Cloud
Over a year ago, Salesforce launched its artificial intelligence powered analytics solution – Einstein Analytics. It includes:
- Sales Analytics App;
- B2B Marketing Analytics App;
- Service Analytics App;
- Einstein Discovery.
Each of them is equipped with a powerful data visualization capability. Let’s focus on these tools one by one.
Sales Analytics App
The application brings the power of Einstein Analytics to Sales Cloud users. It offers advanced data visualization tools. These dashboards not only show the current performance, but also progress over a certain period of time, allowing reps and managers to spot meaningful changes and trends in the pipeline. Check out their key features:
- The dashboards are pre-configured with KPIs from Sales Cloud, and you can trust your data are secured and never outdated thanks to native integration with Sales Cloud.
- They can be customized in a matter of minutes, to meet the current needs of a sales rep or manager.
- Once the dashboard is ready, it can be embedded basically anywhere.
- The dashboards aren’t static – they are animated, and upon a click on Open, Won and Lost buttons, more detailed information on a product or a user appears right in the dashboard.
By having insightful information at hand, sales reps get the ability to nurture relationships with each and every client more effectively. Up-to-the-minute data on such KPIs, as completed activities, generated leads, achieved goals and others, enable them to connect with customers smarter. Moreover, they can use reports and forecasts to prioritize leads and specific tasks and never miss an opportunity.
Sales managers can use this data visualization app for tracking key performance indicators of the whole team and each member individually.
Additionally, team members can collaborate on sales and leads and take action using data from the app from anywhere, on any device.
The monthly price is $75 per user.
B2B Marketing Analytics App
This mobile-ready app offers three types of data visualization tools:
- Manager Dashboard, which gives a bird’s eye view over the whole business, connecting data on campaigns’ efficiency with figures from Sales Cloud;
- Engagement Dashboard, which allows tracking the efficiency of each campaign through such KPIs as open rate, CTR, bounce rate, deliverability, and others;
- Pipeline Dashboard, which provides a complete view of your marketing lifecycle, including the number of prospects, qualified sales and marketing leads, closed leads, and information on how long it takes for a single lead to pass through all stages of the pipeline.
Service Analytics App
This solution offers a new way for customer support agents and managers to explore Service Cloud data. The app provides managers with a full view of key service team performance indicators, such as average close time, customer satisfaction rate, first-contact resolution and other metrics. Managers can access real-time data, as well as see historical charts and peer benchmarks. At the same time, agents can make use of case and customer snapshots to speed up decision-making and prioritize cases.
This data mining tool provides users with the answers to the following questions:
- What happened?
- What changed over time?
- Why it happened?
- What could happen?
- What is the difference?
- How can I improve it?
Armed with the answers to these questions, as well as their own deep knowledge of the business and intuition, every Salesforce user can make quicker, better informed decisions and take action in Sales Cloud or Service Cloud.
Quick Overview of AppExchange Data Visualization Tools
Surely, out-of-the-box tools provided by Salesforce itself, however customizable they might be, can’t be 100% suitable for each and every organization out there. Luckily, AppExchange provides a large number of free and paid data visualization tools tailored to specific organizations, departments and roles. We at OMI (Outsourcing Management Inc.) took care to make up a list of 5 best popular solutions.
This free pack of data visualization tools is probably the simplest way to get started, making it an ideal choice for Salesforce newbies and startups. Surely, it lacks the artificial intelligence capabilities of more modern solutions, but just for staying on top of your metrics for the first months it’ll do.
Users especially praise the documents dashboard, as it shows which documents are just eating up storage space.
With Apsona, dashboards, charts and pivot tables can be created using a simple drag-and-drop interface. They provide real-time data with filtering. For example, a dashboard may provide a full view of all opportunities – open and closed ones, their total value and source.
Besides, the app allows tracking and analyzing trends, gathering the information in real-time ad hoc reports.
This solution is great for companies that wish to ensure that their CRM investment isn’t going to waste. These dashboards are meant to provide insights into CRM usage, showing if some employees need guidance or coaching and whether some users don’t need it at all.
The application offers advanced marketing automation capabilities, which can be used to nurture leads, onboard new customers and cross-sell products. Email and social media marketing campaigns can be launched directly from the 366 Degrees, and integration with popular video hosting platforms, such as Vidyard and YouTube, allows complementing campaigns with engaging videos.
The performance of these campaigns can be analyzed through 366 Degrees’ customizable dashboards and reporting tools. These data visualization tools can show sales and marketing data by lead generation channels.
For many companies, Google Ads campaigns makes a significant part of their marketing efforts. Having this data integrated with their CRM is crucial. CloudAmp’s integration with Google Analytics addresses this need. The integration takes just a few clicks and puts your web analytics data where your other critical marketing details are. The app provides over 200 pre-built dashboards which can be modified based on your current needs.
If implemented properly, data visualization can be a paying investment. In fact, according to Nuclear Research Institute, together business intelligence and data visualization tools combined will be able to bring $13.01 ROI on every dollar invested. Surely, it is not a panacea for all business issues, and implementing such tools takes some time and a learning curve. Besides, however good the existing out-of-the-box solutions may be, there is no such as thing as a one-size-fits-all data visualization solution. Each of them needs some fine-tuning, to make it suit the specifics of your team.
Implementation of Salesforce Visualizations at OMI
We at OMI will be happy to help your business adopt powerful data visualization tools and make them work to your business’ benefit. In addition, our wide expertise with Salesforce CRM allows us to offer our clients custom Salesforce app development services to build custom role-specific data visualization solutions. OMI (Outsourcing Management Inc.) dives deep into every project it takes on, analyzing the business niche and specifics of the company, to empower the customer to become a recognized leader in their industry and a trusted vendor for their clients.