Analysts react to Salesforce Tableau grab

In what will be the largest acquisition in Salesforce history, “the move is not a big surprise,” according to Forrester VP and principal analyst Liz Herbert, speaking about the US $15.7 billion acquisition of analytics platform vendor Tableau.

Jennifer O'Brien Jun 12th 2019 A-A+

In what will be the largest acquisition in Salesforce history, “the move is not a big surprise,” according to Forrester VP and principal analyst Liz Herbert, speaking about the US $15.7 billion acquisition of analytics platform vendor Tableau.

Herbert joined two Forrester colleagues in commenting on the latest big IT acquisition.

“The move is not a big surprise, as rumors of massive acquisitions have been swirling and as Salesforce has clearly stated its vision to be a more integrated, insights-driven solution portfolio,” Herbert said.

“Numerous Salesforce customers already use Tableau due to its simplicity and strong appeal with LOB, which are two traits it shares with Salesforce.

“What does it mean for customers? Longer term, this has great potential for Salesforce to create more cross-cloud data visualization aligned to its Customer360 strategy. In the shorter term, however, the status quo is likely to remain as Tableau customers are still only partially in the cloud and as this introduces another platform into the mix.”  

Meanwhile, Forrester VP research director, Allen Bonde, said the deal is a customer experience play, and in a way, an answer to SAP’s purchase of Qualtrics.

“While a leader in many waves, Salesforce has been weaker when it comes to customer analytics vs peers - this additional will help on that front.

“Tableau has a great front-end experience and is a master of self-service apps that appeal to the masses, something SFDC will also benefit from as they look to expand their market. That said, a lot of Tableau customers are on-prem, so they will need to rationalise the cloud strategy for the combined company.”

Forrfester VP and principal analyst, Boris Evelson, said business intelligence (BI) is a very mature market with most of the features and capabilities getting increasingly commoditised.

“With discommoded features and price pressures (in large enterprise deals Microsoft charges under $4.00 per user per month) it's increasingly difficult for independent BI vendors to remain profitable.”  

He said Tableau and Salesforce have both complementary and overlapping capabilities: Salesforce only runs in the Salesforce cloud, Tableau runs on most public clouds (AWS, Azure) and also runs on premise. 

“Salesforce mostly goes after customer facing (sales, marketing, customer service) analytics, Tableau goes after all BI use case (front and back office). But SF Einstein Discovery (one of the products in the Einstein Analytics family, that is largely based on a recent BeyondCore acquisition) does overlap with Tableau significantly. It's also a general purpose BI platform that can connect to any data source be used to build any BI application.

“Visualizations, OLAP, NLP and many other features of these two products are overlapping, so it'll be interesting to see how SF reconciles and integrates them or keep them separate. Long term it wouldn't make sense to keep supporting and enhancing two sets of code for these capabilities, so IMHO integration is inevitable. And hence the risk - Tableau as an independent company had the luxury of focusing on nothing but BI and analytics.

“Now Tableau faces the challenge of integrating 3rd party code, getting its developers pulled into other SF projects, etc. Keeping Tableau laser- focused on its core product will be the key to the successful merger.”

Meanwhile, Tableau CEO and founder, Adam Selipsky, said the company is excited it has entered into a definitive deal for Tableau to be acquired by Salesforce in "one of the most historic combinations in the history of the software industry." 

"In a short 16 years, we have gone from a start-up in a bedroom to a billion dollar public company. We have been able to serve millions of people in more than 86,000 organisations around the world. We have been heads down building and delivering the analytics capabilities that are so critical to all of those customers," Selipsky said in a statement at the time of the announcement.