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Salesforce & Slack from a CRM Perspective


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Image: Sundry Photography -
Having just finished reading my colleague Irwin Lazar’s UC-oriented take on the potential intentions behind Salesforce’s announced acquisition of Slack, I’m driven to take fingers to keyboard to offer a different perspective.
The notion of bringing communications together with customer data is not a new one. In 1999 — the same year that Salesforce was founded — Nortel acquired Clarify, a major CRM company. The rationale for today’s acquisition is similar — but presumably with a much greater probability of success. One reason is that cloud infrastructures will allow the technical integration of each company’s solutions to happen relatively seamlessly.
Another reason is that the world has changed in the intervening 20 years. In 1999, combining customer management with enterprise communications looked like a good idea, but was somewhat unproven. Today, Salesforce has already worked its way into many facets of an enterprise (sales, marketing, service, e-commerce) in almost every industry. I have spoken to new companies completely designed around the CRM system. Slack will add an intelligent communication layer that will improve the Salesforce platform.
In terms of competing with Microsoft, Salesforce has been trouncing Dynamics 365 for years. I’ve long wondered why Microsoft never brought Teams and Dynamics closer together. Talk of doing so has never come to fruition.
As I see it, Salesforce has the opportunity to create a seamless suite of communications and CRM, adding another “cloud” to a collection already comprising Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, and so on. Salesforce, and its executive team — especially CEO Marc Benioff and CTO Parker Harris — don’t think it terms of silos, but in terms of a complete platform. While CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft may have that vision as well, the company has struggled to bring together two very separate businesses.
Some say this may be the first of a series of acquisitions for Salesforce, taking the company to a new level. You can’t help but imagine whether a contact center company would be under consideration — that would certainly pair well with Slack. Also, it wouldn’t be the first time that a company that partnered with one vendor for a capability (e.g., as Salesforce has done with AWS for contact center via Amazon Connect) ultimately bought another company in the space. Several possibilities jump to mind, but I’ll leave those musings for others.