The Salesforce building in San Francisco.
Image: Sundry Photography/Adobe Stock

Salesforce came to New York City under storm clouds (in both senses) this week, opening the doors to its World Tour NYC at the Javits Center on Thursday, just days after three top execs walked out the door, and NASDAQ responded with jitters.

The road show touted the CRM giant’s hyperscaling capabilities to meet growing data demands, and the integration of platforms acquired in recent years, especially Slack and Tableau. By bringing the two programs into its tech stack, Salesforce aims to enhance its Customer 360 strategy. The strategy is to help organizations collaborate in a more streamlined manner, while giving them access to all kinds of data from every corner of Salesforce’s dataverse, affording them a comprehensive view of their customers.

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Salesforce’s new major integrations with Slack and Tableau

The Salesforce logo.
Image: Salesforce

At the New York event, the company showed off the integration of its data engine/warehouse Salesforce Genie with its Tableau collaborative data visualization platform. The company also unwrapped a novel integration of its enterprise communication and collaboration platform Slack with Salesforce Sales Cloud.

At a glance, the Tableau integration will turn the platform into a real-time instant data visualization powerhouse, while the Slack linkup with Sales Cloud will, among other things, make Slack a “town square for digital sales and marketing” – a hub for teams across silos to work together in real time within one platform.

While these new pair ups are yet another instance of the migration of enterprise software to the cloud, it is also a nod to the perennial big data conundrum: “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” A 2021 TechRepublic Premium report showed that a significant percentage of companies opt out of using analytics tools because they don’t have the ability to parse the firehose of data they provide.

Boris Evelson, principal analyst at Forrester, explained companies are increasingly seeking to provide a view into customer behavior and needs in one tech stack, versus an a la carte mix of apps that, though they may be best of breed, may not play well together.

“It’s important that CRM teams can bring together data from different applications, each application handling a certain stage in the customer journey, all within Salesforce,” he explained. “Why? Office workers generally are very overburdened with a big variety of applications. Everyone wants the 360-degree view of customers, products and transactions in one virtual place, and Salesforce is no different; what they are building is not conceptually new to the market, but it’s what customers want, and several large business applications vendors have been doing this for years.”

SEE: Best practices to follow for data migration (TechRepublic)

Salesforce Genie supercharges Tableau

Salesforce acquired Tableau in 2019 for over $15 billion, a major investment to give the CRM giant an intuitive data visualization and manipulation platform. With the integration of Salesforce Genie, a hyperscale real-time data warehouse, which Salesforce debuted in September this year, the company hopes to give Tableau customers global CRM data without requiring massive expertise to parse it (Figure A).

Figure A

Sample Tableau dashboard showing an easy-to-use overview of organizational email performance.
Image: Tableau. Sample dashboard showing an easy-to-use overview of organizational email performance.

SEE: The 2022 Big Data Visualization Toolkit Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

Salesforce said the Tableau/Genie innovation will give users instant access to customer analytics and enable lightning fast-visualizations with purpose-built, customizable dashboards with the goal of:

  • Creating automated workflows to get timely insights from their data.
  • Using the power of its Einstein AI platform with Salesforce Genie data and turning raw data into actionable insights.
  • Delivering “Customer 360” data to Tableau users from across the organization in real time.

Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer at Tableau, said Genie feeds relevant data from Salesforce’s huge engagement web to Tableau, which helps non-experts “see and understand how customers are interacting with you, who are the most profitable customers, which ones are most at risk, and much more in a simple, intuitive way.”

Ajenstat added: “Marketers have hundreds of sources of data, and they struggle with harmonizing all of it. Tableau helps people grasp that data. What we wanted to do was to make it easy for people to make decisions faster, in part through automations within the business systems. That’s where the Genie part comes in: It provides the ability to bring together data in real time, and provides the platform for automation, personalization and segmentation. Pair it up with Tableau, and you grab that gold mine of data and bring it to life.”

SEE: The future of cloud computing in 2023 (TechRepublic) 

Evelson said Salesforce has introduced an opportunity and a challenge for enterprises. “If a lot of my business apps are based on Salesforce, now I have an opportunity to use Salesforce as my enterprise data warehouse, which is what Genie does: It’s a repository of all enterprise CRM reconciled, cleansed and reconstituted data. These systems are very difficult to build but constitute a multi-billion dollar market around the world. But is Genie the new enterprise data warehouse, or is it just a source to an enterprise data warehouse? That’s the new architectural dilemma clients will have to deal with.”

Sales Cloud streamlines Slack

Salesforce acquired Slack at the end of 2020 for nearly $28 billion as part of its “digital HQ” strategy, as explained in this TechRepublic interview with Rob Seaman, senior vice president of product for Slack, and Noah Weiss, incoming chief product officer for Slack.

The latest integration of Slack with Salesforce Sales Cloud is designed to make it easier for teams to simplify their processes, automate work and collaborate together more efficiently, according to the company. The enhancement comes on the heels of news that Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield will leave Salesforce in January to be succeeded by Salesforce Cloud executive Lidiane Jones.

Blake Markham, vice president of product management for Slack, explained that the evolution of the application solves a key challenge facing employees and organizations: how to meet their revenue commitments and do more with less, including finding efficiencies and cost savings without sacrificing customer experience.

“Stakeholder misalignment is only exacerbated by organizational silos between sales, marketing, customer success and other areas,” he said. “Sales, marketing, finance, legal and many other teams need new ways to collaborate closely to get deals done. We think a lot about how to make that easier.”

SEE: How to take notes in the Slack mobile app (TechRepublic video) 

According to Salesforce, the new Sales Cloud and Slack one-two punch will:

Enhance Slack collaborations by importing real-time Sales Cloud data into customized channels, powering deal momentum efficiency and driving revenue growth.

Enable sales reps to access, create and update Sales Cloud data without leaving the Slack platform.

Let users receive automated, customized notifications to let account teams do things like visualize opportunities and customer details piped directly in channels dedicated to a specific customer account, making critical information visible to people working on the account.

Customize workflows and templates to automate sales best practices. This means once an opportunity is ready contract teams can build a Slack Connect channel with the customer counterparts for CRM in Slack.

Markham added that the Slack/Sales Cloud pair-up enhances three critical Slack missions: breaking down communication silos, helping sales and other employees embrace flexibility, and bringing the power of automation to everyone in a company (Figure B).

Figure B

Slack interaction enhanced with automated engagement data. 
Image: Slack. Slack interaction enhanced with automated engagement data.

The company’s own data suggests 81% of sales reps report that team selling helps them close deals, but that more than 70% of their time is spent on administrative tasks.

Salesforce has introduced 15 Slack integrations to date, and in April released the new Apex SDK designed to make it easier for software engineers to build actions and workflows and to auto-generate Slack’s UI framework. Now the company is heading into 2023 with a steep discount on its Sales Productivity Bundle through January 15, 2023. Markham said integration enhancements of Slack have driven a 15% improvement in deal cycle times, 27% higher win rates, and 60% faster customer response.

SEE: What’s the difference: Data migration vs data conversion? (TechRepublic) 

“There’s pressure on sales reps, and there’s a disconnect; they know they want to sell as a team but it’s a lot harder, especially with teams working remotely. So, with the rate of turnover today, there’s a ‘need for speed’ to get teams working together effectively beyond the inefficiencies and challenges,” he said.

Platform consolidation, hyperscaling and the cloud

If hyperscale cloud providers Q322 results from Amazon, Microsoft and Google (which account for over half of all hyperscale operations) suggest a slowdown in the rush to cloud services, data center hyperscaling growth continues apace. A March 2022 study from Synergy noted a current pipeline of 314 future new hyperscale data centers, with rapid growth continuing.

Evelson said growth in deployment of end-to-end technology stacks go hand-in-hand with hyperscaling. “Clients are wondering if they need to spend a lot of time and effort trying to integrate multiple best-of-breed components, or can they get everything they need from Google, SAP, Oracle, AWS or Salesforce, so they don’t need to go outside those ecosystems,” he said. “Over the years, these vendors have been making acquisitions allowing them to do this.”

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