In summary: Oracle’s purchase of Eloqua throws the cat amongst the pigeons, Salesforce.com helps elect the president, and will gamification take root in CRM?
That marketing automation firm Eloqua should be acquired was no great surprise. What was a shock was that Oracle was the purchaser and not Salesforce.com. Ever since Salesforce launched its Marketing Cloud last year commentators were speculating that the company would make a marketing automation acquisition to fill out its capabilities.
Perhaps that was, at least part of, the reason that Oracle made the purchase. Oracle has a far bigger war-chest for potential acquisitions than its much smaller rival, so it’s possible its strategy is being driven, or at least influenced, by the desire to deny Salesforce strategic acquisitions.
Whatever the motivation the move is likely to have some interesting repercussions. Firstly, with around 50% of Eloqua users believed to also use Salesforce.com, and the fractious, if not outright hostile, state of Oracle/Salesforce.com relations, Eloqua customers may be wondering whether it makes sense to remain in the crossfire between two warring IT vendors. And, if the decision is to head for calmer waters, what goes? Eloqua or Salesforce.com?
Secondly, it’s hard to believe that Salesforce.com won’t respond, with Marketo seeming to be the stand out candidate for an acquisition. Whether a deal can be done at a sensible price given that Salesforce’s negotiating position may have been somewhat undermined, and that other vendors like Microsoft and SAP, or, who knows, even Oracle again, may enter the bidding process, will be interesting to see.
While it looks as if Oracle has thrown a spanner into Salesforce’s plans, their challenge will be to meld this acquisition, and their many other recent ones (see here for my take on this and other happenings in my CRM software market wrap up for 2012) with their existing products set in a way that makes sense to prospective customers. Given the struggle they’ve had amalgamating their 2005 acquisitions of Peoplesoft, JD Edwards, and Siebel Systems into their Fusion application suite, this may not prove to an easy one.
In other Oracle news, the company reported their Q2 results which saw earnings of $2.6 billion on revenues of $9.1 billion. While hardware sales were down 23% sales of new licences and subscriptions were up 17% year on year.
Elsewhere, it was revealed that Salesforce.com technology had underpinned the Obama election campaign in the US. The system was apparently used to track 5.7 million voter enquiries and the records of 1.5 million voter contacts. I’m not sure whether this sort of political association is net positive or negative from a marketing perspective. I always wince for example when companies sponsor soccer teams here in the UK because it invariably antagonises opposing fans, though I imagine the US political scene isn’t quite so partisan.
In other Salesforce news the company announced its ‘Spring ’13’ update. This will include improvements to its Touch mobile application, forecasting, and Outlook integration for the Sales Cloud, as well as enhancements to its Chatter social collaboration tool.
Sage also announced the general availability of version 8 of its SalesLogix CRM product. SalesLogix was one of the pioneers of flexible, cost-effective CRM systems for mid-size companies, gaining around 10,000 sites, but it’s been eclipsed by the likes of Microsoft and Salesforce.com in recent years. New capabilities include an improved look and feel, as well as enhancements to its mobile client, calendars and collaboration, configuration and customisation, and security capabilities.
Finally, Zurmo announced that it was shipping version 1.0 of its ‘gamified’ open source CRM application. Capabilities include points, badges and leader boards. There’s a lot of buzz about gamification at the moment, and I think it’s an interesting tool – executed in the right way – to encourage user adoption. While it’s probably worth noting that gamifications just one potential element in a complex mix of activities required for successful adoption, and certainly not a silver bullet, it will be interesting to see both how Zurmo gets on, but also if and how gamification takes root in other CRM applications.
Anyway, that concludes my take on the news for December. If I’ve missed or misunderstood anything significant please feel free to comment!