“While software is eating the world, it’s nothing without actually providing us some useful information out of all the data that lurks under the hood,” says Adrian Kunzle, Salesforce.com’s SVP of Product Development, Platform. And it is that data, whether about customers, products, or processes, that is the core asset of every business.
Kunzle is the former chief architect and CTO of J.P. Morgan Chase. In his view, this all-important business data “has been treated like dirt over the years.” One common practice involves generating many copies of the same data, typically for use in different applications. This creates inconsistencies in what users see in those apps, and makes it difficult to bring it all back together into a single data warehouse.
Breaks in business processes often happen simply due to the discrepancies that arise over time when two steps are working off different copies of the data.
“We need to think about where the data is coming from, how it’s being used, and how to get it to the person that needs it to make better business decisions,” says Kunzle.
A common way CIOs try to link applications and data together is with an integration tool, so “App A” will talk to “App B.” While this works to a degree, it doesn’t make the underlying architecture any better. The presence of an integration tool means apps don’t bother with their own connectivity capabilities and it almost always forces a copy of the data to be made.
Even worse, it presents users with a third partial view of their information landscape, which is basically defined by the sets of objects that they’ve tried to link together. “Nowhere in that picture is the full view of your world,” says Kunzle.
A singular solution
On-premise solutions are typically architected so that two systems have two different databases — and, as a result, two replicas of the same information. “I’ve seen it as an interesting side effect of moving to our cloud. It tends to expose just how many copies of a customer some companies have,” says Kunzle.
The Salesforce1 Platform allows Salesforce products to run off a singular scalable database. Whether a customer is viewing contact information in Sales Cloud or Service Cloud, they’re seeing the same record. In addition, the platform enables developers and business users to build a multitude of custom applications that leverage the same data.
Salesforce.com is now working to break down the walls of information architecture by driving connectivity. “We’re trying to solve how people manage data into their ecosystem so they can think much more holistically about it, including its relationship to the customer, no matter where it is in their technical environment,” says Kunzle.
This involves connecting Salesforce products to all the data that surrounds them in any one company’s software ecosystem. Instead of, for example, requiring users to go into Salesforce for customer info and then into a separate cloud solution that provides order info, users will be able to logically relate them, and the data they contain, to each other.
Laura Fagan is a brand journalist for Salesforce.com.
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