The Thursday Stack: Many Moving Pieces

Salesforce’s acquisition of data visualization platform Tableau, announced earlier this week, inspired a response we can now identify as typical in this period of industry consolidation. First, observers gasp at the price tag (in billions, with a “b”); and then, like with the off-season signing of a max-contract NBA star, we have to wait many months to see how the new asset gels with the rest of the players.

For marketers and data specialists, the deal appears to provide Salesforce users with increased value and convenience, with some in the field anticipating a broader shift.

Byron Matthews, President and Chief Executive Office of global sales performance company Miller Heiman Group, predicts that the acquisition will have “a profound impact on the entire sales industry.”

He said, “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. 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, according to our most recent research [from CSO Insights, the company’s research division].”

Dustin Grosse, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer with automation and optimization vendor Nintex, agrees that the acquisition of Tableau “raises the bar on data analytics and visualization for the entire CRM industry.”

The increased Salesforce roster is also being sized up against Microsoft’s business analytics.

“Microsoft has a strong Power Platform that includes Power BI,” Grosse explained, “but eventually having analytics and visualization more natively embedded within Salesforce CRM offers tremendous potential value and convenience to sellers, marketers, and general managers.”

Digital transformation agency SPR’s Chief Data Scientist Ray Johnson points out that there are organizations that use both a CRM solution and Microsoft, and that the factors driving the choices include “cost, architecture, existing skillsets, functional needs and their level of investment in existing solutions.”

Johnson added, “There will still be scenarios where one solution is preferable to another; however, this acquisition adds a new dimension to the decision process. Now CRM and Microsoft need to show value potentially based on an integrated solution, while keeping in mind that the components of each solution (data visualization and CRM) can be decoupled and used independently. This will not be immediate but will evolve over time as both products increase integration with their respective data visualization platforms.” — Chris Wood

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Rainy days and Thursdays, here in New York, but we have a few sunbeams of news. For example, from Drift, the conversational marketing platform (you didn’t miss my conversation with Dave Gerhardt?), a leap into video. With the ever-increasing importance of video, the imperative for Drift to find a way to layer its chat capabilities into a video environment has been clear. Drift Video combines video and chat technology, allowing conversations to start while the video is being viewed.

The proffer is geared to B2B marketers, and is aimed at making for better engagement than, for example, sending a follow-up email to a viewer after the video has been watched. The conversation takes place in the same channel where the video is consumed. That’s the key feature, but the platform — as you’d expect — is also the place to record and share videos, and offers notifications that a video is being watched. — KD

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Our recent coverage of the Zendesk Showcase in New York highlighted their sales automation solution known as Sell.  Yesterday, Zendesk announced an initiative to bring Sell into harmony with their Support tool through a new offering, Duet. “The days of thinking about customers as living in separate sales and support clouds is over.
Customer experience transcends any single function or team,” said Mikkel Svane, Zendesk founder, CEO and chairman, in a release.  Duet is a joint platform for the sales and support teams. At the same time, Zendesk launched an App Framework allowing partners to embed third part data and actions directly into Sell and Support. Launch partners announced were GetResponse and Mailchimp. — KD

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Also duetting this week, digital experience platform ContentSquare (we last caught up with them at Adobe Summit) and CX optimization and personalization vendor Monetate. From Cannes Lions, where it’s not raining, they today announced a partnership to help brands meet the ever more demanding expectations of consumers. Contentsquare brings the granular understanding of where and how content is being consumed. Monetate has the personalized programmatic engine to act on the insights. Early adopters are Clarks, the shoe brand, and Dreams, the mattress retailers. — KD

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