What is Data Cloud

Don’t be fooled with the Data Cloud product naming. Just because it brings together two of the most common words in the technology landscape, Salesforce’s newest offering is anything but mundane. Not only does it alleviate many of the headaches of businesses when dealing with masses of disconnected customer data, it also adds understanding, and adaptive ways to exploit this data. However, before we dive into how Salesforce Data Cloud can help your organisation, let's get an overview of what the product is all about.

So what is Data Cloud, and how can yet another platform help your business? In a nutshell, it's a platform that brings together all your customer data, unifies and harmonises it, and then creates a single view of your customer. After this unified profile is created, Data Cloud can leverage this in a multitude of ways. These include creating insights, BI analysis , AI predictions, and activating the data to be used in other channels. The options for the channels are numerous, as they could be other Salesforce applications, BI tools, Ad tech, or third party tools and platforms.

Data Cloud - Unification, Insights, Activation, Engagment

While Salesforce has been promising this elusive Customer 360 view for a long time, what makes Data Cloud particularly petertinet in today's context is that it responds to the growing challenge of companies who are struggling to manage these dozens or hundreds of data sources and make sense of them. Indeed, this is exactly the key strength of Data Cloud, its ability to ingest massive amounts of data from multiple sources, harmonise and unify them, and then leverage this data to provide insights and activations.

Let's provide a quick example to get a better understanding of this. Imagine that I want to know which customers are not engaging with my marketing channels or making purchases. With this information, customer reps can reach out to them to see if there are any issues. To achieve this, Data Cloud ingests our touchpoint engagements data from Marketing Cloud emails, our product clicks from the website, and also the purchasing history from the company CRM. Following this ingestion, the data is harmonised into a structured data model, which in turn is segmented to identify the non-engaged customers. This segment is then acted on by creating a task for the Sales Reps in Sales Cloud. To be clear, this is just one example of a myriad of possibilities, but it gives you a flavour of what is possible.

How does it work?

As you have no doubt already noticed the data follows a standard life-cycle in Data Cloud. Let's go a bit deeper and break down these phases a bit further.

Click on the arrow below to step through the different stages of the data in life-cycle in Data Cloud

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Connect and Ingest

The first step in building a unified model is to connect your data sources. Multiple options are available for these connections. There are preconfigured connectors from common cloud providers, AWS, Azure, Snowflake, Google, and also for first party apps from Salesforce, such as Sales Cloud, Commerce and Marketing Cloud. This list isn’t exhaustive and they are adding new connector updates with every release. If the out of the box connectors don’t fit your business landscape then Data Cloud gives the possibility to ingest the data with its ingestion APIs.

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Data Cloud then maps the incoming data to a standardised Customer 360 data model. Don’t worry the model can be customised, but it gives everyone a common data foundation that applies best practices and also allows future extensibility for specific business needs.

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The centrepiece of the platform is the unification process that brings together different data records and performs identity resolution allowing a single source of truth for the customer profile. Data Cloud provides the possibility to specify what rules are used to create the unified profile and also the preferred data sources.

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Analyse and Predict

This is where the data crunching and insights happen, providing lots of options to the data hungry analysts. Calculated Insights are the workhorses of the platform, capable of performing complex aggregations on unified data through click-based tools or using SQL. Streaming insights provide Real-time data streams that can be calculated and aggregated bringing personalisation to a new level. Alongside the calculated and streaming insights Data Cloud also provides integration with Tableau and Datarama.

Additionally, there is the AI functionality that allows you to use your own models or use the No Code AI model provided by Salesforce. This is one area where Salesforce is investing a lot of time and energy, so watch this space.

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Finally we can act on the data, making all our efforts worthwhile. Different types of activations are possible. The Salesforce platform can be triggered using Flow and Apex classes. Marketing Cloud can have customer data sent to it in real time or when the insights are calculated. Also external systems can be leveraged to receive the Data Cloud data.

Where to next?

So there you have it. With the ever increasing challenges of colossal data volumes, data complexity, siloed organisations, and then the question of how to exploit this data, Salesforce has developed Data Cloud to respond to these needs.

While the power of the platform is readily available to Data Cloud clients, there is nevertheless the challenge of how to use it to its fullest potential. This is why we have developed two offer types that can assist in the understanding of how Data Cloud can bring value to your organisation. For more details have a look at our Discovery Offers. Additionally, we are developing a library of potential use cases that could be applied to companies that share similar types of needs. Please refer to our Data Cloud Use Cases.

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