Does Your Data Tell Stories?

I’m going to show my age here…remember the joke:

Question: What time does your watch say? Answer: It doesn’t say anything, I have to read it.

It’s like that with data too:

Question: What stories do your data tell? Answer: They don’t tell anything, I have to analyze and interpret the data to figure that out.

I’ve spent a large portion of my career digging into data, analyzing it, searching for patterns, outliers and exceptions. Why? To help the organizations I was working for to better understand what was driving their business forward, what was holding it back, where they were spending too much money, where they were making a lot of money, and even why their competition gained market share while they lost it.

It took hours and hours to plow through all the data available for analysis in order to be able to answer questions like “Why is printer ink sales down in Modesto?” or “Why do we sell more Adidas than Nike in Chicago?” Even much more complex questions like “How many seats do we need to fill on a Boeing 757 flight from Chicago to San Francisco to break even, and at what average price per seat?” can be answered with the right data. At one of my prior roles, I spent nearly 3 weeks of every month simply prepping the data from the previous month so that I could answer questions like those just mentioned. And then, during that 4th week of each month, I spent my time defending my findings and data analysis to management as I presented the facts about the business that went against their gut feelings.

Of course all this happened early in my career, long before I was a Salesforce user.

When I first started using Salesforce, I built reports and dashboards to see how many times customers called in with certain types of issues relating to their software. I was able to determine how often specific customers called in for support and what they needed help with. That still took time, but it was quicker than my pre-Salesforce days, and often still required some additional analysis and word-smithing before sharing with management.

So that’s better, but still rather time-consuming.

Enter Lexio, from Narrative Science.

Lexio automates analysis and gives you the story hidden in your Salesforce data in plain English, in real-time, and in a way that helps you understand and act on it.

Now that’s your data telling you something!

Narrative Science calls that Data Storytelling. Sounds simple enough, right? Ok, you try to explain just exactly what Data Storytelling is…go!

Listen to what the people who work at Narrative Science have to say in this video.

Want to learn more? Visit with Narrative Science at Dreamforce.

Great Dates, Bad Dates and Dates

Did you ever go out on a date with someone a friend said was perfect for you only to be wishing the date never started after just 5 minutes? That would be a bad date.


Did you ever go out on a date with someone who you figured out was perfect for you after just 5 minutes? That would be a great date!

first sight

Did you ever wonder how you can filter a matrix report to compare this year versus last year in your production org? That would be a Salesforce date.  And when you use a Salesforce date in the right way, WOW!  The things you can do!

Salesforce dates come in all shapes and sizes…just like your personal good and bad dates. But unlike those dates, you have complete control over what your Salesforce dates will do. And that’s a good thing! Dates are one of the most important filters you can use on a report. They will not only make sure you get what you are looking for, but with a narrow focus, your reports will actually run faster.

Types of Salesforce Dates

There are many types of Salesforce dates. There’s the really important ones, the dates everyone wants to know – what date does Dreamforce start, and when is Midwest Dreamin’ next year?  While I admit those are important, they are really irrelevant to how you filter a report.

Everyone probably knows that you can use a fixed date range, simply by entering (or selecting from the calendar) the dates you want, and most people probably know that you can use a pre-defined date range such as “Current FQ” or “Last 90 Days”.


But did you realize you can use mixed dates to give you a really cool filter?

mixed dates

In short, dates are awesome, and control what you see (or don’t see) in your reports and dashboards.

For some reason, when I think about the power dates give you in reports, I thought of this: