Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:

  • Salesforce’s new conversational queries will allow business users to ‘have a conversation with their data.’
  • It understands queries based on the type of data you are viewing and displays data in automatically configured charts.

Salesforce has expanded the capabilities of its Einstein Analytics platform with the launch of conversational queries to simplify how business users access and interact with their data.

The new feature allows users to type questions and phrases relating to business data, such as “show me top accounts by annual revenue” or “rank accounts decreasing by annual revenue and billing country,” and view results in automatically configured charts as they go.

Users can also type a common word and Einstein provides relevant suggestions, or they can manually type their own. Salesforce claims it is able to also understand the best suited question in relation to the data you have, and displays results in a bar chart, graph, or a map format, to look at results by location.

Talking TechRepublic through the new capability at Salesforce 2018 World Tour in Sydney on Tuesday was Keri Brooke, VP of Product Marketing for Analytics, who explained how the new capability visualises data on the fly as the user is asking the questions.

SEE: Infographic: Most companies are collecting data, but aren’t using big data solutions (Tech Pro Research)

“The questions are being shaped by the metadata that is in the CRM system,” Brooke told TechRepublic. “As you start to type it will look at the metadata in the application ,so it’s not pure search, it’s actually more intelligent based on the shape of your data.

“One of the things that’s unique is we’re not just looking at data that’s being created in the CRM. We’re bringing in data from multiple sources, so we’re bringing it from the ERP system, or an HCM system, or a supply chain system. And all of that data is basically being brought into the number one CRM and the analytics is essentially happening in that CRM.”

Users can also keep drilling deeper into data sets and have a visual history of all the questions they asked, allowing them to go back to the one they felt was most relevant, or start again from that point and branch off into another direction.

“What we found with business users when they ask these first second and third order questions, they get to the end and they’re like, ‘How the heck did i get here?’ With conversational queries, it gives you a full visual history of that path that you took,” Brooke told TechRepublic.

The benefit of this, she added, is that it cuts the need for other members of the organisation, such as data scientists, IT, or admin, to gather and present data. The business user can then share their own charts and their own insights with other people that they need to collaborate with around their particular customer.

“So instead of your admin or your IT building those applications and charts for you, you’re essentially just giving the data to your business user and saying, ‘You know what questions you need to ask, I don’t know as an admin what questions you as a sales leader need to ask; we’ll give you the data and the tools and then you can create these charts and applications from that’,” she added.

“We’re at that point now where every single business user is getting not just the advantage of the insights but the advantage of creating their own charts and their own queries really easily.”

While traditionally the process of creating data charts has taken an average of 12 clicks, according to Salesforce, conversational queries gets answers to questions faster while eliminating clicks and the training required to drill down into the data.

And while it’s not a natural language querying, Brooke said the process offers business users a more “human way” of asking questions of your data, without having to wait for a data scientist. The upshot of this greater interaction with data: Smarter decision making and faster processes.

“The centre of gravity of data, originally it was ERP system, and then it was a data warehouse,” Brooke said. “I feel like now the centre of gravity for data is the customer data, and that’s why any analytics built into our CRM is the most powerful data now for our business users.

“We’re now seeing customers who really have this vision for digital transformation and we’ve seen the data being the driver for digital transformation, and marketing automation, and the CMO; personally, I feel like analytics is really going to be the thing that does drive digital transformation because it has to be transformation for the business users.”