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Forget the eye-watering price of $15.7bn; the agreement to acquire analytics and data visualization company Tableau by Salesforce is another logical step in building out its Customer Success Platform. The days of traditional customer relationship management (CRM) are numbered, because the push to digitally transform businesses to create differentiated and winning customer experiences in an omnichannel environment requires so much more.

Customer engagement is a high-stakes game on which futures depend – enterprises and vendors

The old CRM paradigm of departmental support for sales, marketing, and service will never be sufficient to enable businesses to meet ever-rising customer expectations. The challenge today for every business is persistent relevance, and that demands a unified enterprise-wide approach with a singular and purposeful focus on the customer. This is where customer engagement platforms (CEPs) are so critical, providing the engagement layer that links every part of the value network to customers and connecting the back office, logistics, supply chain, and front office including commerce to create and deliver value to customers consistently. That is a tall order, but achievable with a coherent enterprise-wide transformational approach and the right intelligent CEP in place to orchestrate relevance at every interaction moment across every customer journey.

It's time to move on from legacy CRM thinking

Salesforce won the CRM battle, but the competitive fight has moved on in recent years, and to continue to compete successfully, the vendor had to reposition and equip itself for this transformational challenge.

The acquisition of MuleSoft opened up the Customer Success Platform to data across the enterprise locked away in multiple systems. This and third-party data provide the fuel to enable artificial intelligence (AI) to dynamically orchestrate relevance throughout every customer journey. While this is a work in progress for Salesforce and all its competitors, it is the clear direction and where the future will be won or lost.

Tableau helps employees make sense out of complexity

While millions of decisions can be automated via a combination of rules-based approaches, robotic process automation, and AI event triggers, the thousands of employees in large enterprises need to make sense out of the vast streams of data flooding their organizations, and Tableau has made a virtue out of visualizing data in ways that allow employees to extract meaning from it and act. Their judgment calls can make the difference between a customer staying or rushing off to competitors. Salesforce has a good track record of democratizing analytics, and this will be greatly enhanced through the Tableau acquisition, once that is completed and integrated into the Customer Success Platform.

The competitive landscape is constantly morphing, consolidating, and expanding in ever-shorter cycle times. The prize is huge, and given that ultra-competitive context, big bets are required. More will surely come.


Further reading

2019 Trends to Watch: Customer Engagement Platforms, INT001-000106 (November 2018)


Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement Practice

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