A beginner’s guide to Salesforce Tableau CRM (formerly known as Einstein Analytics)

Jul 14, 2020
  • sales, marketing and service
  • automotive
  • chemicals
  • discrete manufacturing

Einstein Analytics, now known as Tableau CRM, is a Business Intelligence (BI) tool that allows companies to gather, clean, and analyze data from multiple sources to make data-driven decisions. This tool can be particularly useful for Salesforce users who may have run into limitations with the standard Reports & Dashboards functionality. In this blog , we will explore the various aspects of Einstein Analytics and guide you through all of its possibilities and potential.

Being able to easily report on Salesforce data with out-of-the-box Reports & Dashboards is one of the biggest benefits any company using Salesforce can imagine. Suddenly all kinds of KPIs become measurable and trackable in a heartbeat. Talking about real business value.

However, as many Salesforce users might already have experienced, there are some limitations when it comes to Salesforce’s Reports & Dashboards functionality. The main one? If the data isn’t in Salesforce, you can’t report on it. But don't worry, Salesforce has got you covered with their own amazing Business Intelligence (BI) tool called CRM Analytics (previously Einstein Analytics) 

In this blog post we’ll talk about the basics of CRM Analytics, its main differentiators from Reports & Dashboards and when it might be time to consider adding it to your company’s toolbelt.

After reading this blog you should be able to answer the following three questions:

  • When should we consider using CRM Analytics?
  • What is CRM Analytics? 
  • Why should we consider adopting CRM Analytics?

When should we consider using CRM Analytics?

The answer to this question will be different for everyone. If you recognize yourself or your company in any of the points below, it might be time to consider using CRM Analytics: 

  • Are you running into limitations with standard Salesforce Reports & Dashboards?
  • Do you want to focus more on data exploration instead of data reporting?
  • Do you have a need to report on combined data from Salesforce and third-party applications?
  • Do you need advanced analytics on your Customer Community?
  • Do you want to up your reporting game for management meetings?
  • Have you read through this entire blog post and are you still interested to know more?

What is CRM Analytics?

Before we start with the features CRM Analytics has to offer, we need to take a step back and take a look at a definition of Business Intelligence:

Business intelligence (BI) combines business analytics, data mining, data visualization, data tools and infrastructure, and best practices to help organizations to make more data-driven decisions.

The key takeaway from this definition is that a good BI tool allows companies to make data-driven decisions. Or in short, as the CRM Analytics product page states: Discover, Identify, Visualize, Know.

The two main components of CRM Analytics are the Analytics Studio, where you can build your Dashboards and explore datasets via Lenses, and the Data Manager, where you can load, prepare and transform your data from both Salesforce and external applications to eventually register everything in reusable datasets. 

Analytics Studio

Analytics Studio is the front-end of CRM Analytics. It’s where all the dashboards, lenses and datasets are grouped together in apps. You can read up on the definitions of these assets via the CRM Analytics Basics module over on Trailhead.

The main attraction of Analytics Studio is the Dashboard Builder. Within this builder, you have access to various widget types to visualize data from all your available datasets. You can use charts, tables, numbers, toggles, text blocks, global filters, list filters, date filters and even images to start building your data-driven storytelling.

Most of these options are also available in standard Salesforce Dashboards, but Analytics Studio takes it to a whole other level of detail. There are a ton more visualization options for your charts, ranging from the classic bar and line charts to more compelling date and time charts, gauges, scatterplots, grid charts, regional maps and even pipelines and flow charts. All of which have extensive formatting options of their own, which makes it very easy to convey the right message in the right way. 

All of these customization options are available through the User Interface. Absolutely no coding required. But even for the skilled developers among you, the Dashboard builder allows you access to the underlying code so you can have a go at building some seriously complex data queries and dashboards, should there be a need.

A well-built dashboard can be used to convey important information and insights, both for end-users during their daily routine in Sales, Service, Marketing and so on, but also for managers during board meetings and such. What’s more, you can set notification on certain KPIs within a dashboard to alert you when a critical threshold has been reached. Talk about bringing the ‘pro’ to proactivity! To top it off, the Dashboard builder allows you to build custom layouts for a dashboard, depending on the device being used to view the dashboard. So no matter if you’re viewing via your desktop, a tablet or a mobile device, you’ll be able to get insight fast and easy. 

Data Manager

The other side of CRM Analytics is the Data Manager, which you could refer to as the back-end of the tool. This is the control center where you get to play with your data and get it ready for use in Analytics Studio. 

In contrast to standard Salesforce Reports & Dashboards, where you can only use data that exists within Salesforce, with CRM Analytics it is possible to not only connect with Salesforce data, but also to upload your own CSV files and even connect with third-party applications with one of the many out-of-the-box connectors or custom integrations. This opens up a lot of new possibilities for insights and KPI’s that were previously not available. Like combining Account data (from Salesforce) with the actual Order data (from your ERP), or even Campaign budget data (from Salesforce) with actual Time Spent (from Harvest Time Tracker).

Although these custom integrations might require some technical know-how, the Salesforce data connector and the CSV upload can be configured completely via the User Interface. Again, no coding required. Having all this data from various sources available in one place really is a game changer.


Dataflow is the tool that does the heavy lifting for data transformations. Here you have the possibility to load the data you want to work with. You can choose from Salesforce local data, external data or already existing datasets from Analytics Studio. Once the data is loaded, you can go ahead and transform it using the various transformation options, including appending data (add rows to a datatable), augmenting data (add columns to a datatable), compute expressions (create custom formula fields), compute relatives (calculate deltas between ordered rows), converting dimensions to measures, flatten hierarchies, filtering data, slicing datasets and updating datasets. The last step that remains is registering the dataset to be used for dashboard building.


When you don’t require this much heavy-lifting for your data transformations, then Recipes come to your rescue. Recipes start from a registered dataset and give you the tools to clean up your data and perform some basic transformations. Creating bucket fields, automatically fill in missing values, augment datasets via lookups, filter data, etc. To get started with Recipes, go have a look at the Prepare Your Data module on Trailhead.  

Since not all data is created equally, the Data Managers offers you the tools to easily prepare your data to be actually useful for dashboarding. In order to make sure you’re always working with current data, the Data Monitor allows you to schedule all of the data integrations and transformations (e.g. sync data from the ERP each night at 00:00 and run the Orders Dataflow and Recipes an hour later at 01:00. When an error has occurred, a notification mail will be sent to the CRM Analytics admin.

Since CRM Analytics is part of the Salesforce ecosystem, it follows the same three-times-a-year release schedule, which makes it one of the most innovative BI tools out there.

Key takeaway

CRM Analytics is a BI tool to make data-driven decisions that is easy to work with, has fantastic out-of-the-box visualization capabilities, yet has the possibility to go advanced and custom and is highly innovative through its three releases per year.

Why should we consider adopting CRM Analytics?

For a lot of companies adopting Salesforce, the standard Report & Dashboard functionality opens up the road to KPIs that were previously impossible to track or at the very least took a lot of time and effort to calculate! Initially this functionality is invaluable on its own, but after a couple of months creating Reports & Dashboards, you’ll start to run into some of the limitations and considerations that need to be taken into account. This is a normal evolution and if anything signals your organization is reaching a certain maturity that exceeds the possibilities of Salesforce Reports & Dashboard, since these aren’t a full-blown Business Intelligence solution.

Feel free to read up on some of frequently asked questions we receive about Reports in this blog post: FAQ's about Salesforce Reports.

Time for CRM Analytics to enter the stage! When you strip the tool down to its essence, you’ll find that it all revolves around data. Not just the visualization of it, but so much more.

Before you can start thinking about building out your Business Intelligence solution, you have to analyze where your data is coming from. Most companies use multiple systems for their day-to-day business. Depending on the digital maturity of a business, the data sources vary from plain old Excel spreadsheets to on-site ERP systems and perhaps already a few cloud-based solutions. Having a uniform use of those systems across the entire organisation is most likely also a utopian situation. More likely, each department will use their own systems and processes. Your Sales team works in a different way than your Marketing team or Service team.

Please understand that Einstein Analytics will not single-handedly resolve this challenge on its own. That requires a thorough reform and uniformization of your organization, regardless of the chosen BI tool. However, CRM Analytics does have some tricks up its sleeves to help you along the way. 

Data preparation and clean-up

The next step on the road to Business Intelligence success is data quality. Here, quality refers both to the actual data quality, things like missing values and data correctness, and quality related to the BI purpose: what story/insights do you want to extract from this data?

To help clean up the data and prepare it for the intended use, CRM Analytics offers data preparation tools like the Dataflows and Recipes we highlighted earlier when introducing the Data Manager. 

To get you started quickly, CRM Analytics even has quite a lot of pre-configured dashboards at the ready that plug into the standards Salesforce objects for various departments like Sales, Service,  Marketing and many more. Within a day you can have access to advanced analytics. 

Security and permission-based access

As we all know, Salesforce’s security functionalities, both for data access and user permissions, are second to none. 

Good news: CRM Analytics has the option to inherit the already existing security setup from Salesforce. No more worrying about loopholes and security breaches. Even when you want to set up a more custom security model, you can use different Security Predicates for each dataset to make sure sensitive information is kept secure at all times.

As a Salesforce Administrator you can control which users get access to CRM Analytics and which features are available to them via Permission Sets. Some users will only have read-only access to dashboards, while others might also have edit right and yet another group gets access to the Data Manager to transform data and create datasets.

Discover, Identify, Visualize, Know, ACT

Last but not least, CRM Analytics not only gives you insights into your data by showing some flashy graphs in pretty colors (and believe me, the dashboards can be very visually appealing), the best part is it makes your data actionable. If we’re talking about Salesforce data, CRM Analytics allows you to directly open the record detail page of any object that has been identified as being crucial to act upon through your data exploration. You can even set notifications on your CRM Analytics dashboards that warns you if a certain threshold has been reached, so you can investigate immediately and act appropriately.

There is also the option to embed CRM Analytics Dashboards straight into your Salesforce record detail pages and home page. This brings all of these advanced insights right into the hands of your Salesforce users. Imagine your Sales team to have access to an Account’s entire purchasing history from the ERP system in order to prepare for a new Opportunity.

Key takeaway

CRM Analytics makes BI a whole lot easier with time-saving solutions for connecting data, preparing and cleaning up data, setting up security, acting upon data via notifications and embedded dashboards. All of these aspects make a really strong case for Einstein Analytics if you compare them to other BI solutions out there.

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