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On the Wave Analytics: Nonprofits ride the big data

4.5.16 By: David Rosenstock

Big data is everywhere, from your credit score to your Facebook likes and charitable donations. When this digital footprint is combined with everyone else’s, the resulting wave of information, known as big data, can be extremely powerful. In order to use this information effectively, organizations across the globe are parsing, segmenting, and visualizing data to better serve their constituents. As a nonprofit or small business, you don’t have to be excluded from the benefits this data provides; it’s at your fingertips.

But data is only as useful as the tools you have to interpret it.

What is the Wave    

Wave Analytics is Salesforce’s solution to this overwhelming amount of data. Most organizations, whether they know it or not, have a galaxy of information stored in their Salesforce instance. That data can take many shapes, such as the number of clicks on a mass email campaign, the annual income of constituents, or the skill sets of volunteers. Wave Analytics connects to your Sales or Service cloud so you can meaningfully process and then present your data in a way your team can understand, appreciate, and act on.

Imagine being able to take your raw data and turn it into a strategy for fundraising or a target market for your services. Data-driven decision making is the future of business intelligence, not only for the private sector, but also for nonprofits; both sectors can equally use analytics to drive and execute specific outcomes. Wave Analytics provides the ability to create narrative and coherency to what would otherwise be a muddle of random names and numbers.          

Where’s the break

Since Wave Analytics was designed with smartphones and tablets in mind, many of its features are accessible from the palm of your hand. This makes it a supremely useful tool for adhoc meetings where board members want graphs and charts on the spot, or when you’re talking numbers with a colleague at a conference; it’s another great tool for admins on the go. Your reports and dashboards are only a tap and a swipe away. Quickly pull up donation averages on your smartphone, then drill down into more granular data, like monthly snapshots or the zip code from where the majority of your donations originated.

How to catch the Wave

Any organization that uses Salesforce could potentially benefit from Wave Analytics, but it’s not for everyone. While it has vastly simplified the processes around generating analytics, without a dedicated internal resource or a vested interest as an organization, adopting Wave Analytics will be a challenge; it takes a lot of energy to interpret all those numbers, and the software still requires your time to make sure it’s parsing out the correct information. As with any technology, the value of the solution is intricately tied to the knowledge base of the user.

Even if you’re a Salesforce newbie, you don’t have to have large amounts of data entered into Salesforce to use Wave Analytics. Sometimes the data we most need analyzed is stored outside of Salesforce. As a cloud-based platform, Wave Analytics can also be used to interpret third-party app data (e.g. WealthEngine), desktop data (e.g. an excel spreadsheet), and public information (e.g. census data).

Also, depending on your marketing automation platform and content management system, everything from your social media interactions to website visits can be analyzed. Many organizations are implementing key performance indicators in their employee assessments or as a basis for measuring department-wide performance. Wave Analytics can help you identify those metrics and easily visualize them.  

What the Wave means for you

Having numbers on your side makes for compelling arguments and evidence; nonprofits and businesses need to make decisions based on facts rather than intuition or anecdotal evidence. We love helping businesses and nonprofits achieve their goals, and one of the best ways to start is having the metrics in place to know when you’ve satisfied your objectives.

Note: Ask us about the discount nonprofits receive on licenses for Wave Analytics.

If you’re curious about Wave Analytics or other methods of tracking your data, feel free to reach out:

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