Let’s look at the standard dashboard first. With Salesforce Standard Reports, you turn a business need into an answerable reporting question, and then create a report from a list of records that meet the criteria defined. To get the required data, you filter, group, and do math on those records. This is displayed as text or graphically in a chart. The source report then makes up dashboard components, so that you can see multiple reports with a common theme.
As you can see, Standard Reports seen on a Dashboard meet many of the needs of data analysts right out of the box. For metrics, graphs, tables, and lists, you need no additional software. It has everything you expect from a reporting package, including the ability to filter by fields, harness formula fields, bucket fields, display conditional highlighting, and export. With an additional license for Lightning Connect OData, you can include data external to Salesforce in your reports as well.
It’s easy to learn; record owners or those given access can easily view or edit Standard Reports or Dashboards, and Salesforce has a wealth of online learning tools available.
So, the question is: why use anything else? Because Standard Reports have limitations, so there are times when Salesforce on its own will not supply the data you need.
Reasons to rely on Standard Reports include:
- Your data architecture does not change frequently
- You want only the data that is kept in Salesforce
- You want reports on basic metrics
- You want to embed your reports to a Salesforce page
- You want a snapshot of your data at one point in time
- You want to use conditional highlighting
- You want descriptive reports
- You want to run user filters.
However, Salesforce Standard Reports might be insufficient if you:
- Want to use more than five formula fields in a report
- Have more than 100 source-report columns
- Want to use more than four related objects in a report
- Need more than 20 field filters
- Have more than 50 rows for a tabular report
- Have enough data that your reports are timing out
- Have more than 20 rows to display in a summary report
- Have more than 2,000 rows for a custom object in a snapshot.
Perhaps the biggest limitation of the standard option is what the data shows: if you want to see trends and not just metrics and if you want your software to show your next-best course of action, you’ll want to look to something with AI.
Moving up to Einstein Analytics
As government agencies have grown, data volume rapidly grows, calculations became more complex, and artificial intelligence is increasingly integrated into government policy. A larger platform-data solution became necessary to overcome the limitations of Salesforce’s Standard Reports. That’s where Einstein Analytics comes in.
Einstein Analytics gives you insights into your data. Its Data Discovery wizard takes you out of the descriptive model of Standard Reports (the what) and takes you into both the predictive (the why) and prescriptive (the next-best action). It shows you trends that you might have missed just using Standard Reports. It can integrate external data via CSV files, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, and ETL tool extraction and transformation to datasets. Einstein Analytics can recognize patterns across millions of rows of data, and its vastly improved visualization effects include branding, advanced functions in compare tables, and scaled and improved snapshot capabilities, including grouping over time and trending analyses.
Here you can see what, apart from the map, looks similar to the Salesforce Report. In fact, you’re seeing much more data, taken over time as opposed to as a snapshot. The map has drill-down logic to zoom in and out of regions of interest, and supports custom mapping of data for townships, counties, stadium maps, and building design. Now look at a predictive report:
Einstein Analytics reports not just on information you already have but predicts what’s to come and gives you insights into how to proceed. While a good analyst can do those things by looking at metrics, Einstein can do it while supporting 5,000 fields in a data set, something that a human analyst (and Salesforce on its own) cannot do.
Einstein Analytics can:
- Sync up to 100 objects
- Recognize statistically significant trends
- Handle data sets up to two billion rows
- Perform historical analyses
- Perform actions on single and bulk records
- Support advanced formula field calculations
- Combine fields and objects and analyze them any way you want
- Support highly complicated trending (period over period) and suggest the next-best action.
You don’t need AI for everything, but if you’re a Salesforce user and you’re ready for augmented analytics, Einstein can do all this and more when Standard Reports and Dashboards are just not enough.
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Francis Thomas Crump