Salesforce.com is a SaaS provider that offers customer relationship management, marketing and automation solutions, on a subscription basis. The company is constantly innovating and adding more and more products and services to its list of offerings.
Salesforce.com has made new acquisitions, and entered into strategic alliances, to broaden its portfolio of services. The company has recently expanded into the social enterprise space, and it’s 2011 acquisition of Radian6 for social media monitoring, and the 2012 acquisition of Buddy Media, for social media marketing, boosts its presence in the social media space. Salesforce has since then repackaged the services offered by Radian6 and BuddyMedia as part of its own “Marketing Cloud” offering.
However, salesforce’s marketing cloud is far from complete. Eloqua, now owned by Oracle, a direct competitor of Salesforce, powers the crucial marketing automation component of salesforce’s marketing cloud offering. Salesforce had signed up with Eloqua before Oracle acquired it.
Oracle had acquired Eloqua for US$871 million in December 2012, in what is apparently an attempt to compete with salesforce.com to offer next-generation marketing software. Oracle nevertheless confirms that Eloqua’s offering, even as it finds inclusion in Oracle’s broader suite, would still be available as a separate offering, even with rival CRM systems, such as that of salesforce. Oracle would adopt an “open integration stratagey” with Eloqua, meaning it would continue to support and even enhance existing two-way integrations between Eloqua and rival CRM’s, such as salesforce’s marketing cloud and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This, however, may have to do with Oracle’s imperative need to calm any jangly nerves of existing Eloqua customers, and retain them, rather than any largesse or goodwill!
Such integrations with other vendors to cover up critical gaps is common in the industry. Here, Salesforce using Eloqua’s digital marketing platform exposes a core gap in their Marketing Automation offering. While this would not affect the end user in terms of service availability or quality, it does narrows down the available options.
Flexibility, or the ability to change vendors at will is touted as one of the key benefits of the cloud. Such tie-ups and acquisitions mean that the customer may still be struck with the same vendor even if they opt to change. Here, even if the customer changed from salesforce to its competitor, Oracle, it would still be struck with the same marketing automation platform.
Salesforce, in the meantime, seems to be scouting to acquire a marketing automation vendor rather than continue to rely on partners such as Eloqua and Marketo, but nothing has happened on this front so far. As of now, salesforce has an investment in Infor, which owns Epiphany, a marketing automation product.