Salesforce.com Acquires Radian6, Takes A Giant Step Closer To Social CRM

Cloud computing and CRM giant salesforce.com has acquired Radian6 to add real social media monitoring and engagement to its suite of clouds, in a deal valued at $326 million. Why do I say "real"? Salesforce.com has been talking about social CRM and the importance of feeding social media mentions into sales and service processes for quite some time, but this acquisition will let salesforce.com deliver on that vision in a much bigger way. 

I wrote about social listening platforms in my February report on "Emerging Technologies B2B CMOs Should Watch In 2011." CMOs should take notice of this acquisition because it represents the first foray for salesforce.com into capabilities that CMOs at large enterprises should care about, and since salesforce.com is aggressively trying to increase its penetration in the large-enterprise market, it could be followed by other additions to form the strikingly missing marketing cloud, namely marketing automation to support lead nurturing and closed-loop marketing. Salesforce.com will also likely take Radian6, or a version it ports to the Force.com platform, to its bread-and-butter midmarket, making social listening a bigger part of the marketing strategy for smaller and midsize firms, as it should be. 

Here are a few valuable use cases that will result from this marriage that can improve sales and marketing effectiveness and/or the customer experience your firm delivers:

  • Find more leads. Marketers can listen for buying signals in the postings and discussions on social sites, blogs, and communities and use these signals to identify new warm leads to add to the system and start marketing to these people. 
  • Provide additional insights to sales. Similarly, by listening to what people are saying about their needs or buying processes and matching it to opportunity records, sales reps gain valuable insight into what may be going on in their accounts to enhance the conversations they have with buyers.
  • Identify satisfaction issues before they turn into crisis. This has been part of the service cloud on a smaller scale, but now customer service professionals can be alerted to satisfaction issues that might be brewing at customer accounts and capture that feedback on the customer record for anyone who needs to be involved with solving it, which could take a village.
  • Add external activity to employee streams. Salesforce.com has seen huge adoption of Chatter, its social network for the enterprise that lets employees follow internal activities. Expect salesforce.com to add Radian6 data to the Chatter feed so that employees can keep tabs on things happening inside and outside of the company from one place. 
  • Develop custom applications. Salesforce.com has a good track record of making new acquisitions available to Force.com developers, and in this case, there are endless possibilities for new apps that could be created that tap into the social data.

What other use cases can you think of?

Time will tell how well these companies and cultures combine. But at first glance, this looks like a great thing for both companies as well as marketers currently using salesforce.com, those considering a new CRM, and those already using Radian6.

Comments

End-to-end Social CRM processes

Jeff - I agree that this acquisition is a great validation of the value that Social CRM brings to the enterprise. Or perhaps, more correctly, one of the first tangible steps by a technology vendor to execute an end-to-end Social CRM process: from listen, to act, to listen again.

I am most excited about the opportunities in your final bullet-point: creating custom applications.

Force.com is a development platform for enterprise customers who want to "extend" the core functions of Salesforce.com or build completely new apps. Adding Radian6 brings what has been an inside-looking CRM experience into an explicitly outside-looking one, adding a wealth of valuable customer data that can be baked into key steps of a company's Salesforce CRM processes. I'm picturing a world where we replace "sales activities" with "social interactions," creating a differentiating relationship with a customer.

We explore some of those ideas in our CIO blog article about the Salesforce-Radian6 acquisition: http://blog.appirio.com/2011/03/listen-and-ye-shall-hear-importance-of.html

Radian6 + SF

Hi Jeff:

Thoughtful and brief post. Interesting that all of the initial interest in social media monitoring was focused mostly on marketing and PR but the big $$$ come from social CRM. I think this is why the price was so surprisingly high - gives SF another big chunk of software to sell against the rest of the enterprise software crowd - gives them a bigger addressable market. That is why this acquisition added $1bb in market value to SF last week.

@tomob