From Numbers to Data to Understanding
Your organization has so much data. Immersed in an increasingly digital landscape, your customers produce new and connected data every second. Complementary secondary and tertiary data can be obtained in easy, plug-and-play packages. Why do we collect and store all this data? We can cluster the answer into four key drivers:
- To Know → we want an overview of who, what, when, and where in high level numbers. Descriptive Analytics helps businesses understand how it is performing and answers "what is happening?"
- To Learn → This is where a search for insights comes in. Stakeholders have key questions about their business and need data driven answers. Known as Diagnostic Analytics, we want to learn "why did this happen?"
- To Target → With increasing sophistication, data is collected to improve products and services, to package it for third-parties and advertisers, or, in the most nefarious cases, to expose it or to influence people. Prescriptive Analytics explores the "what if" or "how might" things happen based on the data we have, helping us answer "what are the key trends and patterns?"
- To Understand → This is perhaps the culmination of data collection. We might be reticent to accept that data has a better idea but we want the right data to make better decisions - the payoff can be a game changer. Predictive Analytics helps us answer "what should I do now?"
As we move towards what Johan Yu calls "The Intelligent Experience", companies and business users are no longer actively trying to find the data and insights they need. Rather, analytics is finding them and it is used to feed business processes and enabling users to make relevant and timely decisions. This is exactly where Einstein Analytics and Discovery can play a key role for your business.
What is Einstein Analytics?
Einstein Analytics is everything you want standard Salesforce reporting to be. It is dynamic and clickable, it handles volume better and faster, it has built in analysis and exploration tools, and it gives you access to all the Salesforce objects. As a product, Einstein Analytics (EA) is a suite of tools that combines dynamic, interactive data visualization with the power of machine learning to deliver insights and data-driven applications for every business user. The EA Suite contains:
- Einstein Analytics Platform - used to source data from Salesforce and create visuals, dashboards, and business specific applications
- Einstein Discovery - automatically examines millions of data combinations in minutes to uncover unbiased answers, explanations, and recommendations (AI)
As a separate suite, EA is a non-core, external application that is fully integrated with your Salesforce environment. This means that data is stored in the EA Platform and access is granted via permission sets and licenses. Last but not least, EA is easy to use as it does not require developer experience. Alongside interesting questions, the other key requirement is sufficient knowledge of your Salesforce environment.
What are Einstein Analytics Assets?
As a Salesforce Admin or Consultant, EA gives you incredibly powerful reporting tools. Analytics Assets represent levels of data refinement—from raw data that is uploaded from your source systems to highly curated, packaged views of your data. They are the building blocks at your disposal to design your EA project, helping you to ultimately tell your data story.
- A Dataset contains a set of source data. Data sets can be internal, such as Salesforce objects or reports, or external, such as Amazon Web Services, Heroku Apps, or even a CSV file.
- A Dataflow is a set of instructions that specifies the data you want to extract from your datasets and which datasets to make available for querying. It allows you to apply global filters and combine multiple dataset sources.
- A Data Recipe is a user-interface tool that lets you connect existing datasets, apply transformations, filter, curate and output the results into a more digestible format. This is really where you get an idea of the actual data being sourced and can transform these ingredients into something delectable.
- A Lens is a particular view into a dataset or recipe data. It is where you do exploratory analysis and visualization.
- A Dashboard is a collection of charts, widgets, and tables based on your lenses. Dashboards are the ultimately visualization tool where you can share your story.
- An App is a set of analytics about specific area of your business. Apps can be shared with internal users or externally to Community Cloud users.
How do I approach an Einstein Analytics Project?
As a business user, you have questions and you need answers. How do you make your data useful and actionable? How can it help you reach understanding about your business or customers? How can you visualize this newfound knowledge in a way that engages your audience? To harness the power of EA, you can use the available Assets to align your approach into four steps:
- Source - The first step is to identify and locate your source data. These sources are your raw ingredients that will ultimately make (or break) your dish. Where does your data live? Is it external or internal? What are the relationships in your data? What are the key fields you need?
- Prepare - In this step you can combine your data sources and apply some high-level filtering. You can also augment your sources and review the fields that will make up your output. Do you have multiple data sets? Do you need to apply global filters to all your data to limit the volume? Are all the fields and relationships you need accessible?
- Transform - The drag-and-drop recipe builder shows you a preview of the data you have setup in the previous steps, including where data is missing. You can also merge and combine your data sets, add formulas, transform text to measures, and further filter and curate your project. Is your data clean and consistent? Do you need a custom summary or conversion? Do the field labels need to be changed to present them on a dashboard?
- Interact - Now we reach the data visualization power of EA. The Dashboard builder gives you an extensive menu of tools, widgets, charts, and formatting options to create something truly mesmerizing for your audience. Everything is dynamic, adjustable, and fast. What data story do you want to tell? Who is your target audience and how will they access your dashboard? What will your users want to know as they look at your dashboard? Where will your users click?
Following these 4 steps for any project, you can truly use the power of Einstein Analytics to bring your Salesforce data to life. Are you interested in learning more about Einstein Analytics? View my Appsolutely Inspired video or Contact Appsolutely
About the author
Gaspar Rodriguez believes technology should be used to bring out the best in our society. He is a 7X Certified Senior Salesforce Consultant with 9 years of Salesforce experience in various roles, having designed and implemented more than 30 Salesforce and Force.com projects in over 20 countries, with customers in multi-cultural and multilingual environments.