Salesforce: Stay Tuned For Our Imminent Big Data Push

Salesforce has indicated it will be imminently delivering more in Big Data analytics, possibly through a future acquisition.

Various executives told TechWeek yesterday, during the Customer Company Tour in London, to “stay tuned” for offerings that could delve deep into sizeable, unstructured datasets.

Internet of things + machine learning + social

Salesforce has cast its net so wide since its early days as a CRM-only player that it processes an awful lot of interesting data for customers. It has been getting particularly excited about how it can tie in not just people, but machines too, into its “enterprise social graph”, as it looks to reap the benefits of the “Internet of Things”.

One example given by chief operating officer (COO) George Hu involved MRI scanners revealing when they were broken or needed servicing, in itself a beneficial thing. But Hu explained how a health worker could then look into data relating specifically to that machine – how many times it had been used, how often it broke down – and then create a sales pitch to their boss making the case for better, more efficient machines.

The cloud company also launched Salesforce Communities yesterday, letting users and customers create environments to share information on specific topics, whilst plugging that information into the business process side of Salesforce deployments.

The service will create yet more networks connecting different customers and Salesforce users, chucking even more unstructured data through Saleforce’s cloud data centres, one of which will soon reside in the UK.

There should be more Salesforce can do with all this data coming through its systems, but it is yet to offer a major Big Data service. A full data warehouse service could be an interesting play, offering full data mining capabilities and services, but the cloud giant isn’t giving away anything detailed right now.

It did give some hints as to what was in the pipeline, London tour yesterday, however. It appears it will have a social bent, as many pieces of the Salesforce puzzle have too. Machine learning will be a big part of future Salesforce tech too.

Nasi Jazayeri, executive vice president for the Chatter Technology Group at Salesforce, said the company has filed for 18 patents around machine learning and other technologies, which will look to provide the right data to individual employees.

“You want to engage people in communities. How do you engage people? It’s by personalising their experience in the community through understanding their interaction,” he told TechWeek.

“Based on that, you can connect them to the right people, to the relevant topics and to the right groups.

Talking about the Salesforce Big Data strategy in general, Jazayeri said “there’s a lot happening on that front”, promising “some announcements” soon.

Customer-focused Salesforce

“We are going to get a lot more data becoming customer-centric. The secondary affect of that is you need a lot more sophisticated analytics. You will see a lot more of that coming,” added Steve Garnett, chairman for Salesforce in Europe.

“That is going to create an opportunity for us around the whole Big Data space.”

Salesforce is certainly preparing for more acquisitions. It recently raised $1 billion by increasing its debt with floating convertible bonds, which it will pay back with interest in 2018. It said the proceeds would go on “possible acquisitions of, or investments in, complementary businesses, services or technologies, working capital and capital expenditures”.

“We will look to grow further both organically but also we will make acquisitions,” Garnett added.

It’s unlikely Salesforce will do anything similar to its traditional rivals like Oracle and Microsoft, however. “We don’t look for inspiration and leadership [from those companies],” Garnett  added.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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