Salesforce Acquisitions – An Evolution Of A Complete Platform

How Salesforce is rapidly acquiring marquee companies to create a platform of the future

As technology evolves towards a Cognitive first era and businesses deals with emergence of newer business models, top technology pioneers like Salesforce and Amazon are rapidly adding digital capabilities to stay ahead of those changes. They are not shying away from adding these capabilities, especially in the areas of analytics, artificial intelligence(AI), B2B2C (commerce+marketing)or integration.

Salesforce, in particular, has been at the forefront of this action. They started as the most disruptive customer relationship management (CRM) player and are now progressing towards becoming the #1 digital customer experience (CX) platform. A quick look at the timeline of acquisitions made by Salesforce in last 18 months reveal a very interesting patten. In this article we try to piece together these patterns and see them aligning with 3 waves of business model and technology disruption.

The First wave: Consumerization of the Platform

The first wave emerged in 2018 when Salesforce ramped up marketing, commerce and collaboration products with following acquisitions:

Acquisition Name Category Why?
Attic labs Open source
decentralized database
Would enrich the collaboration platform, Quip, to support simultaneous offline edits and synchronization of documents. Huge impact on collaboration, especially in offline modes
CloudCraze B2B Commerce Completes the Commerce Cloud offering in e-Commerce space with earlier acquisition, Demandware (focused on B2C).
Mulesoft Integration Acquires an enterprise integration capability for complex scenarios and ability to drive large scale transformations here integrations often pose a bottleneck. It is launched as Integration cloud and we are seeing offerings like Customer 360 launched in 2019
Datorama Marketing A marketing intelligence platform - it provides AI based insights by consolidating data from advertising and marketing platforms with high efficiency in getting data in various formats
Rebel Marketing Rebel provides interactive email services - recipients would be able to write reviews, shop and take other actions without leaving the message context.

Clearly Salesforce has been focusing on acquiring capabilities in marketing and commerce space in 2018. It is a very crowded space with players like Adobe and IBM and acquisition and integration of above capabilities positions Salesforce as a true blue enterprise platform – much more than a CRM product. We call this wave as “Consumerization of the platform”. During this phase, Salesforce added a lot of B2C capabilities to its already strong B2B platform.

Consumerization of platform allows powerful AI driven insights, call-to-actions and manageability across Marketing data sources

This ‘Consumerization of the platform’ enables marketers with significantly better capabilities in 3 areas:

  • AI driven Marketing insights across Advertising and Marketing platforms (Datorama)
  • Powerful in-email Call-to-actions to improve email click-through rates (Rebel)
  • Self Service on managing multiple Marketing Data sources using AI powered data management without needing an IT team (Datorama)

Additionally offline collaboration capabilities are a huge plus for enterprises that dont need to worry about offline syncing,versioning and collaboration on documents (Quip).

Mulesoft is the foundation of Salesforce’s Customer 360 vision but also driving Consumerization 2.0 for brands

Mulesoft is proving to be a chartbuster for Salesforce – growing exponentially and leading to large client acquisitions. However this offering is also a foundation for enabling Customer 360 view across variety of Salesforce and non-Salesforce platforms. Unlocking these insights across industries as varied as Healthcare (Patient 360) and Banks (Client 360) along with AI powered recommendations is again an important part of unlocking value from Salesforce platform.

These Customer 360 powered services, insights and recommendations form the basis for the next wave of Consumerization for many brands (Consumerization 2.0).

The second wave is about Data Marathon: Empowering businesses with real-time insights became simpler

With consumerization of its platform, Salesforce has also been quick to recognize that ‘data is the new fuel’ and an ability to piece user data across platforms is a huge competitive advantage. Businesses need better and easier tools to get deeper insights and customers would need a far better personalization. It is difficult to build all the capabilities, rapidly, inhouse. So, what’s the next best option – shopping! 2019 is also seeing a lot of action in terms of large scale acquisitions., especially with respect to data and analytics.

Acquisition Name Category Why?
Roundcorner Not for Profit RoundCorner was a platinum Salesforce ISV focussed on building solutions for NGO and not for profit organizations. With its products like foundationconnect, it offered unique solutions in areas like fundraising and grants
Griddable Data With hybrid cloud implementations becoming the norm - Griddable provides an efficient technology to move data between on-premise systems, clouds and applications. It would be a critical component of clients cloud strategy - especially as Salesforce focusses on multi- cloud deployments
MapAnything Data MapAnything is a provider of location based intelligence for field sales and service representatives. For long MapAnything has been a platinum ISV partner and its products were available through AppExchange. With its map-centric UI - this acquisition will allow sales managers to have better spatial view of customers and leads and service organizations would be able to improve field effectiveness with better routing, scheduling and GPS tracking capabilities
Bonobo AI Data Bonobo is a conversational AI intelligence platform built to capture and mine rich, unstructured data from every customer interaction across voice, chat, video, email, and more. It has out of box integrations with all major conversational platforms, provides journey intelligence and run-time segmentations and predictive heatmapping
Tableau Data The biggest acquisition by Salesforve ever! Tableau would expand Salesforce portfolio of analytics offerings like Einstein and provide data visualization and business BI offerings.

We call the above wave as “The Data Marathon”. Salesforce has slowly and surely invested in building long term best of breed analytics capabilities – and we are sure that these would be seamlessly embedded in the platform.

These long term investments by Salesforce help businesses to improve conversations with their customers, teams and employees with real-time insights and recommendations based on data.

For instance, MapAnything integration with Salesforce, will help clients who have specific needs in areas like field service, territory management to provide richer map based visualizations to service their customers faster and more efficiently.

So, how does this add up?

Salesforce has been rapidly building and buying capabilities to evolve as an enterprise cloud platform. As mentioned above, there is a heavy focus to bolster marketing, commerce and analytics capabilities as is reflected in the range of acquisitions. The consumerization of platform and strong interconnected data capability has enabled Salesforce to launch products like Customer 360 and Salesforce Blockchain for which data and integration capabilities would be critical. We will see the emergence of more business focused offerings with an expansion into cutting edge technologies. Wait, but what about the third wave. These are early days for the third wave but, in our opinion, the third wave will entail acquisitions for advanced AI capabilities, enterprise grade cloud data management and security. Let’s wait and watch out for the third wave!

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