Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=208801213
How do you keep track of the pipeline when you have a growing sales force operating on four continents and in more than a dozen time zones? Software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup Cloud9 Analytics offers a sales management application called Pipeline Accelerator to help companies do just that. Building on its data-warehouse-in-the-cloud platform, Cloud9 announced yesterday that it will add a forecasting application and an Excel add-in to what is now described as a SaaS-based Pipeline Management Suite.
Introduced in January, Cloud9's core Pipeline Accelerator service gives sales managers self-service access to information on changes and trends in a sales pipeline. Reporting off nightly warehouse updates (or more frequent as required) from a customer's Salesforce.com implementation, the service reveals what has changed in the pipeline between any two selected points in time. The service also offers watch-list tracking, delivering e-mailed reports and mobile alerts that help managers take preemptive action to save deals or offset sales shortfalls.
Extending the core Pipeline service, Cloud9's new Forecast Accelerator app help managers understand trending and slippage in sales, and it predict the reliability of forecasts based on historical achievement by salesperson, group and region.
"We analyze the sales attainment trends at every level of the organization, and we can then calculate projections based on the trends so you can handicap sales forecasts," explains Swayne Hill, Cloud9's CEO.
Responding to demands for spreadsheet compatibility, the SaaS vendor developed the Cloud9 for Excel add-in to let sales operations staff develop whatever tables, sub-queries or custom functions desired in Excel. These reports can then be published and shared though the Web.
"It's essentially a visual report builder," says Hill. "There's a secure, ODBC connection to the warehouse with access granted based on the roles and rights within Salesforce.com. Once you've developed reports in Excel, you just push a button to publish them to Cloud9 users."
According to Pipeline Accelerator customer Richard Guest, the service is quickly and easily deployed and has eliminated what he calls the "stare and compare" process of printing out reports and trying to figure out what changed. Guest is vice president of sales operations at telco equipment manufacturer Genband, which has a growing presence in Europe, India, China and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region. "With enough people and time zones and calls half way around the world at all hours, it has saved me a bunch of time to be able to launch Cloud9 within Salesforce.com and see very quickly what has changed in the funnel from one day to the next," says Guest.
Genband relies on three Pipeline Accelerator reports: an interactive drill-down dashboard that breaks out "funnel buckets" including actual, forecast, upside and prospects; a point-in-time comparison report that region heads and executives use to spot changes by day, week, month or quarter; and automated Excel-based reports that are e-mailed to executives every night.
The new Forecast Accelerator and Cloud9 for Excel offerings are set for release in late July with pricing yet to be determined. The core Pipeline Accelerator service starts at $50 per user, per month.