Salesforce.com Adds Another Brick to Social Media Edifice
"We have all heard the jokes of customers having to enter their customer number three times before speaking with a rep who then proceeds to ask for it again," said Nucleus Research VP Rebecca Wettemann. "Companies that can manage the various interactions as a single record will be the differentiators in the marketplace." GoInstant provides just a piece of this grand vision, but it is an interesting piece, she said.
Salesforce.com is acquiring GoInstant, according to a blog post on the startup's site. The development was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources who said Salesforce.com was paying US$70 million for the company.
The news generally fits the "another day, another Salesforce.com acquisition" story line. The CRM cloud vendor has been on an acquisition binge -- it bought at least six companies in 2011 alone. It is on track to match that rate in 2012; besides the GoInstant acquisition, it recently acquired Buddy Media for a reported $800 million.
The Buddy Media deal fits into the happening social space, however, while GoInstant falls more into the workhouse category of service.
Salesforce.com declined to comment for this story. GoInstant did not respond to our request to comment for this story.
A Specific Service Niche
Launched in 2010, GoInstant is the developer of an application that allows users in different locations to browse websites together without having to download software. It's purpose is to allow companies to create "unique, personalized customer experiences through real-time collaboration," according to cofounder Jevon MacDonald.
Service is an area that Salesforce.com has tended to partner on, as opposed to building out its own advanced functionality, Nucleus Research Vice President Rebecca Wettemann told CRM Buyer.
Developments in the space are changing that, however -- starting with Oracle's acquisition of RightNow Technologies, arguably the leading provider of cloud-based service technology.
"I think we will continue to see Salesforce.com invest in and build out service cloud functionality to be competitive," said Wettemann. One example is last year's Assistly acquisition. In February 2012, Salesforce.com debuted a new customer service help desk tool called "Desk.com," which is based on the Assistly technology.
In general, "we are starting to see significant announcements not only from Salesforce.com but also its competitors around the customer experience management space," Wettemann said.
The idea of being able to link media, for instance, is of chief interest, she noted. "Companies and customer want to be able to have a customer interact on different channels -- say a website or Twitter -- and keep those interactions as one single record."
Many have tried or claimed to actually do that, she acknowledged -- but even in single channels, failures still abound.
"We have all heard the jokes of customers having to enter their customer number three times before speaking with a rep who then proceeds to ask for it again," said Wettemann. "Companies that can manage the various interactions as a single record will be the differentiators in the marketplace."
GoInstant provides just a piece of this grand vision, but it is an interesting piece, she said.
"Co-browsing integration into the service cloud gives a user a richer understanding of what the customer knows about an application," explained Wettemann.
It also gives the user better insight into what it has to do to make customers buy more or promote the company more enthusiastically on social media, she added.
A Larger Strategic Vision
It may be a mistake to pigeonhole this acquisition as strictly a service play, Jeff Bunch, account director of digital media at Lane PR, told CRM Buyer.
"Salesforce has been taking a clear strategic path with these acquisitions that is allowing it to essentially create a whole digital category," he said.
When Salesforce acquired Radian 6, it made a statement that it saw analytics as important, Bunch pointed out. When it acquired Buddy Media it underlined -- to the market at least -- that Salesforce.com viewed social media as essential to its CRM vision.
"I believe it is heading in the direction of future social/e-commerce: an end-to-end solution that connects the dots between an enterprise-class CRM and world-class social media tools," Bunch said.