The news started leaking just before Thanksgiving that Salesforce and Slack were deep into acquisition talks. Well, the rumors turned out to be true and this week Salesforce announced its largest acquisition to-date. For a record $27B in mostly cash, Salesforce and Slack are teaming up in what is optimistically being called #Slackforce.
This is the most recent example of Salesforce’s annual mega-acquisition tradition. Previously, Salesforce acquired Tableau (data visualization), Datorama (dashboards) and MuleSoft (integration) and now they’ve added Slack (collaboration) to the mix. These recent consolidations are similar to what we are seeing across the board in sales and marketing platforms. Data, integration and collaboration are absolutely critical to getting the right data, to the right people, at the right time… and, most importantly, the right place.
The last mile in marketing analytics has always been the most difficult part of the journey. Getting data to the right people and the right time means delivering insights where people work, and for most of us, especially since COVID, this means platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
We wrote an ebook on the topic earlier in the year where we dissected the challenges teams face while crossing the last mile, and poor collaboration was one of the biggest barriers preventing teams from taking timely action.
In fact, Gartner’s 2020 Marketing Operations Survey lists “lack of team communication and collaboration” as the number one impediment to marketing operation performance. So it is no surprise that Salesforce, one of the largest marketing platforms in the world, decided to acquire Slack.
Not only does this logically make sense from a product and platform perspective, but it is also timely. Very timely.
Shifting To Remote Work… Permanently
We’ve been blogging about it all year, the shift to a remote-first workforce is real and here to stay. While we fully expect there to be a return to the office, at some point, it won’t be for 100% of the people and it won’t be for 100% of the time. And those remote workers will become even more reliant on the apps that keep them connected: Slack and Teams.
For Salesforce, owning the communication layer means owning the conduit for information across the enterprise. Now, more than ever, the communication layer is messaging and collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft teams.
Think about it: Communication, information, and collaboration, in a remote-first world, is happening not in the breakout rooms, not in company meetings, and definitely not in email. It’s happening in Slack and Teams.
What Does This Mean for Microsoft?
Let’s be real. Slack is the OG, but Microsoft Teams has been on fire in 2020. The first shots were fired back in 2019, but the war heated up with the onset of COVID. And since then Teams has exploded as DAU’s jumped 50% to 115 million over the Summer.
Does the Salesforce acquisition mean Slack has won or lost the war? It’s hard to say, but I think it is safe to assume that Microsoft has put intense pressure on Slack over the past 8 months making joining forces (pun intended) with Salesforce not only timely and logical, but necessary.
So what does this mean for Teams, specifically marketers? Well, for starters, as we pointed out in an earlier blog post, adoption of collaboration platforms are evenly split between smaller independent agencies, which are almost exclusively Slack-based, and the large ad agencies which are overwhelming either on MS Teams or migrating to it.
If anything, I think this validates Microsoft’s aggressive strategy to roll out Teams across their customer base, specifically teams that leverage Microsoft Dynamics (D365) and the larger Microsoft marketing and sales application stack. Within Microsoft, driving Slack into the arms of Salesforce, must simultaneously be seen as a huge win, but also a huge threat.
There are a lot of synergies between Salesforce customers and Slack customers. (Fun fact: 90% of Slack’s enterprise customers are also Salesforce customers.) Obviously, Microsoft has even greater overlap between users of their CRM, sales and marketing products and Teams, since Teams is baked into every Office 365 deployment. Moving into 2021 we can expect both companies to double down on their investments in collaboration.
2021 and Beyond
I know, I know, let’s get 2020 done with! So let’s look into 2021…
I’ll make 3 predictions for 2021:
- Collaboration platforms continue to become the dominant and newly preferred method of communication across the enterprise. Email is already delicing (especially with younger workers) and Zoom fatigue is real. If you aren’t already comfortable with Slack and Teams, just wait, you will be this time next year.
- There won’t be a 3rd platform to challenge this duopoly. This time next year it will still be Slack and Teams. Sure, there will be continued attempts by Google to cut in here, but they will remain solidly a tier 2 player in this space.
- Messaging-based apps built natively into the Slack and Teams ecosystems will start to become as common as apps on your phone. We are, of course, betting big on this prediction!
That is all for now! This might be our last post for 2020, so until the new year, keep calm, carry on, mask up!
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We Were Made For This (webinars)
Getting the Most Out of Slack (webinars)