In 2018, Salesforce made its largest acquisition to date, picking up Mulesoft for a whopping $6+ billion. Given the push for integration with all platforms in order to make Salesforce the central core of business operations, this acquisition seemed a reasonable investment and allowed for a tremendous jump in the integration of 3rd party applications and systems. Yeah sure, some debated its merits, but by and large, we feel the acquisition was a sound step on the strategic plan for Salesforce’s dominance.
The announcement of salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau in June 2019 sent ripples through Wall Street and Silicon Valley. We think most of that had to do with the $15.6 billion all-stock purchase and frankly, some of the negative reviews felt a lot like “headlining” to drive traffic. Generally, though, we think most would agree it was a smart move on both the company’s parts.
From a strategy standpoint, we feel this move was a smart investment for Salesforce, not only to prop up their revenue with approximately $1.4 billion annually from Tableau but also to combat the growing threat from Microsoft’s Power BI and Google’s acquisition of Looker. The competition in the analytic and business intelligence space has never been so heated as recently.
It’s also our opinion that this was also a great fit for Salesforce’s ecosystem. They were already strategic partners, with integration options for their desktop and cloud editions in the App Exchange to enhance BI and analytic data that is pulled from the various Salesforce clouds.
Here’s what we hope Salesforce will do with Tableau
While Salesforce has both reporting capabilities of the Customer 360 and Einstein integrated throughout the platform as an AI tool, Tableau is a complete Business Intelligence platform and from our experience truly an easy point and click interface built for the skillset of the average admin of SF. The data sets you can create and carve out inside of Tableau are phenomenal and quite superior in many ways to out-of-the-box features of Salesforce’s various clouds.
So we’re really hoping that Salesforce integrates some of the common easy points and click interface and tools that Tableau offers to the off-the-shelf reporting/dashboards built-in Sales Cloud, Pardot, Marketing Cloud, Financial Service Cloud, etc. Maybe call it “Tableau Lite” or just enhance the existing capabilities with no mention of the name. We don’t know… but what we do know is that would greatly enhance the value to the customers who might later invest in Analytics Cloud or Tableau.
The “No Software” Conundrum
This acquisition has one pretty significant challenge we see that Salesforce will face. The fact that Tableau Server is an on-premise solution and that kind of (well… actually totally) against the core ideology of “No Software” that Salesforce has been using since literally 1999.
Perhaps this is the reason why they say that Tableau will continue as a wholly separate company for the foreseeable future. Maybe they will phase out the on-premise solution through a long runway. We’re not sure, but this is a significant conundrum to be sure. What do you think they will do?