I smiled when I first read that Salesforce had acquired Radian6. I love trying to piece together what a company’s product strategy is, and who they buy is a pretty good data point.
I think this one is particularly interesting because Radian6 crosses over a couple of significant user communities…#measure people and #Social people. So, the #measure people (my background is in #measure, obviously) are wondering “Is Salesforce getting into the analytics space? Are they going to get into marketing measurement? Optimization? Who else will they buy?” For the #Social people, this is a pretty natural fit. Social CRM is a huge deal, and lots of people are trying to figure out how to do it right. The best use cases I’ve seen for social CRM are on the customer support side, rather than on the sales side. We all know that people like to bitch about bad customer service on twitter (I’m guilty, I’ve done it).
A few years ago, I participated in Jeremiah Owyang’s future of social measurement summit (sorry, I don’t remember what it was actually called) at Xerox PARC. One of the other participants had a particularly brilliant use case. He worked for an enterprise IT products company. He set up a program for monitoring twitter and specific forums for users complaining about, or asking for help with problems with their products. They’d then engage that person and send them a link to the solution in their knowledge base. Brilliant! Solve the problem and engage the customer where they are. Don’t wait for them to come to you. I know, right? Duh. But it was a big deal back then. A revelation.
It was an especially big deal that they weren’t bothered by issues of licensing or if the user had “bought support.” They realized that if someone is having a bad experience with your product, and they’re talking about it in the social mediasphere, you better offer help. Unless, you don’t want people to love your product. At the time, I was working at a company that cared more about making sure they didn’t give support to anyone who hadn’t paid for it than they did about creating a community of zealot customers. It was good, and refreshing, to see someone who realized that social media was changing the customer support model.
Anyway, that’s what I think this Radian6 acquisition is about. It’s about better managing customer relationships. It’ll be interesting to see if Salesforce crosses over more into marketing automation and optimization or into analytics. My hunch is they’ll move in any direction that will help them solve the core problem their customers have: turning leads into sales, and managing the resulting customer relationship. That would mean marketing automation and lead nurturing solutions are on their radar. But straight analytics solutions would not be.
So, #measure people… the question on everyone’s mind…will Salesforce buy the last remaining independent analytics vendor? I wouldn’t bet on it.