OPINION: Salesforce acquires Tableau

OPINION: Salesforce acquires Tableau


Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau – valuing the latter at US$15.7B is jaw-dropping.

$15+ billion spent to fix something that – one could say – has been an Achilles-heel for SFDC for decades is a lot of money in anyone’s mind – even if it is just a stock-swap.

Salesforce has never had great reporting or dashboarding – so that’s a major win here for the folks @ Salesforce, but they get a LOT more in this acquisition than just an answer to their reporting deficiencies.

I’m amazed it has taken SFDC this long to fix reporting.  It’s been woeful [sorry, but it has] since 1999 and it’s hardly changed since then. Sure, Lightning came of late, but that didn’t deliver much.  The recent acquisition has shone a light on SFDC’s lack of direction in this area – and it has led to articles like this one which claims SFDC has lost it’s mojo ..  which makes some really good points. Just WHY has SFDC taken so long? and have they lost their way?

Let’s analyze the winners and losers in this deal.

SFDC ‘native’ reporting and dashboarding..


Audience 1) Existing Salesforce customers:
For this audience, we suspect there’ll be little change unless you have an existing license of Tableau or Domo or something else. We don’t know what the longer-term implications of licensing are, but one would imagine there may be some relief in the future for Tableau users. We don’t expect that SFDC will give too much relief on Tableau licenses – but anyone considering a competing tool such as Domo might now be second-guessing. Whilst it remains to be seen what Salesforce will do with their newfound toys, perhaps some of Tableau’s capabilities might surface inside of Salesforce’s reporting and dashboarding engine, but don’t hold your breath.

Audience 2) Existing Tableau users:
If you have anything other than SFDC as a CRM, you’d have to consider that the more ‘leading edge’ capabilities of Tableau won’t necessarily be a priority any longer. If you use SFDC already – you’re sweet and can expect the odd nugget when the tighter relationship technology-wise pays dividends in a few months. Oh, and one invoice per year as supposed to two – and perhaps one Customer Success Manager 🙂 or two excited Customer Success Managers …

Audience 3) Anyone using SFDC with other BI/Reporting/Dashboard tools:
Many RMS customers are using Domo for reporting. Such news might be a little concerning for those organizations. Domo feels it’s a significant competitor to Tableau. It’s considerably smaller, and doesn’t have the muscle that Tableau has always ha – revenue and marketing wise. But Domo has done a pretty good job of positioning itself as a reporting tool for marketing people, especially considering it has connectors from Salesforce to marketing automation platforms and other digital marketing technologies. So, the fact that Salesforce would buy such a significant competitor, will be of interest to the Domo world.

Audience 4) “Greenfield sites”. New potential buyers of the Salesforce Technology:
We don’t see much change here really other than in a pre-sale demo/marketing event, where  Tableau will immediately begin to feature heavily. It’s a great story and will step up the game considerably in a demo. At long last, an offering that Salesforce can present in the world of reporting and dashboarding where it has fallen significantly behind players such as Oracle and Adobe.  Where Tableau will win against these tools is in the skin-deep appearance of reports and dashes, but not necessarily in the functional/depth of access on the platform where Adobe has a massive unassailable lead, but might not be quite as pretty. Bottom line is that Tableau looks gorgeous [yet beauty is skin-deep] – yet the competitors are almost as pretty, but the camabilities are mush more mature and deeper. But SFDC is very good at making beauty pay.

Other thoughts:

  • Core CRM system technology hasn’t changed very much in the last 20 years. And we think it unlikely that there’s going to be much change for the next 20. So other than in the peripheral areas, such as social, reporting and other newer technologies that Salesforce needs to integrate with, we’re now looking at “the main game”. So – when Google bought Looker earlier in the month, SFDC then pulls the trigger on this one.
  • Whether Salesforce manages to execute what it has never done well in the past and bring what they have acquired into the Salesforce core system needs to be considered doubtable. When Salesforce acquired ExactTarget and when they acquired Radian 6 there was an expectation that these tools would be tightly integrated – perhaps even folded into the core platform. But they have remained as separate tools. We should expect nothing different here – Tableau will operate to their status quo for the next 2 years, so “as you were, soldiers” .. but post that, we should expect the R&D to be focused on the joint offering.
  • We don’t see much change in the next two years. Salesforce has always been very good at continuing to support completing tools [at a tech level]. For example, when Exact Target was purchased the technical support continued for Marketo. So, we don’t see any risk here, really for Domo clients. At a marketing level, however, Domo’s sponsorship of Dreamforce might now need to happen in a neighbouring suburb of San Fran. And will Domo get quite as much airplay in the Salesforce events? it would be petty of me to assume so.
  • The Salesforce reporting and dash boarding engine hasn’t changed technology-wise, in about 20 years. Although the charts are okay in the Lightning, they’re not great. And, incorporating non-Salesforce data into these charts has been the realms of systems integrators such as RMS.
  • It’s important to note, therefore that, as Salesforce starts to sell its core capabilities, if it gets the reporting and dash boarding engine right – and that’s a big if – then it could have a significant advantage over its competitors, esp. Microsoft Dynamics. Having a core reporting and dash boarding engine inside of a CRM that links through to other tools, such as your marketing automation tool, such as your other digital marketing platforms, would be very appealing to most organizations.  A pipe dream, perhaps .. but perhaps that’s the vision- we wait in hope.

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