Salesforce buys Tableau: What analysts, partners and others are saying

Salesforce Tableau acquisition
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Longtime observers of the marketing and sales technology space suggested acquisitions such as Salesforce’s $15.3 billion purchase of Tableau marks an increased emphasis on literally illustrating the actions brands need to take if they want to accomplish their objectives.

San Francisco-based Salesforce announced on Monday it would acquire Tableau, best known as a provider of data visualization software, to help further its customer’s efforts in digital transformation. Tableau, which is based in Seattle, will become part of Salesforce’s Customer 360 platform of products and services. (Disclosure: I provide content marketing services to Salesforce in Canada.)

Ben Bloom, a research director in the marketing and emerging trends domain at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, noted that Salesforce made a similar move with its previous acquisition of Datorama. Now branded as a marketing intelligence tool within Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Datorama brought a vast array of connectors to disparate data sources, Bloom said.

“Tableau is a bigger acquisition, as well as one that has greater penetration across multiple different buying centres within customer enterprises,” Bloom told B2B News Network, adding that the firm’s technology will help close an important gap. “Offering insight in just a descriptive sense is no longer enough. Marketing technology companies now have a bigger role to play in terms of offering products that don’t just say ‘Here’s the conversation rate. Here’s how many leads.’ Now they need to be able to say, ‘Here’s what we recommend you do next,’ and to make that compelling visually.”

John Hauryluke, founder of Salesforce social selling consultancy CRM Cloud People, said bringing on Tableau’s tools is “almost a dream’ for those who found working with tools such as Salesforce’s Einstein involved a steep learning curve.

“The pricing model is yet to be seen. and who knows if they will use the enablement of Tableau to be part of the ‘package deals’ that Salesforce is prone to offer,” he said, adding that there is nevertheless great potential value in elegantly seeing sales and finance data in a dashboard. He used planning a route with GPS as an analogy. “Who wants to use latitude and longitude numbers when you can have a pretty map to show you the way?”

Todd Olson, CEO of product analytics company Pendo, said it’s not enough for companies to simply ingest more data. Companies must be able to extract insights from that data in real time, and then democratize access to those insights so people across an organization can make quick and informed decisions.

“Companies like Looker (which was acquired by Google last week) and Tableau have made this easy,” Olson said, “aggregating the data to help marketers attract and retain customers, sellers be more effective on the front lines, and product teams build offerings that are easier to use.”

Michael Pickett, SVP of Business Development and Ecosystem at Talend, likened the purchase to Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo last year in terms of a drive towards offering the best experience across every customer touchpoint.

“But it’s important to note that not all customer data is stored in Salesforce. Customer data is still scattered across the enterprise in various silos hence there is a need for an independent data integration solution to integrate, manage and govern all the customer data,” he said, adding that Talend also works closely with Amazon, Microsoft, Google, among others.  “Organizations are going to continue to need a strong neutral integration partner that addresses operational application integration challenges.” These include routing customer interactions stored in ERP and CRM systems, or data movement challenges between cloud apps, such as Salesforce, Marketo, etc. to store customer interactions.”

Chris Love, an account manager with Tableau partner firm The Information Lab in the U.K., sounded optimistic about the acquisition in comments he shared on both Twitter and LinkedIn.

“Hopefully Tableau’s focus on R&D can continue, and get a boost, from the acquisition given (Salesforce) has been a big spender in that area,” Love wrote. “Shared customers (and there are lots) will be very excited about tighter integration between the products. Having worked on a number of Salesforce dashboards, I will will welcome any moves to something more seamless.”

Marketers aren’t the only ones who will be effected by the deal, according to Byron Matthews, President and CEO of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales performance company. On average, sales organizations use 10 different technology tools—but despite this abundance of options, few organizations can use those tools to find, clarify or execute on decisions, he told B2BNN. 

“Business intelligence that comes from providers like Tableau is at an inflection point and a huge part of what defines a world-class sales organization,” Matthews said. “Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau is strategic. . . what sellers truly need is a way to leap beyond where they’ve been, and what immediate action they should take, to another layer of sophistication that incorporates how their previous behavior indicates what they should do in the future.”

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.