Two days, two major acquisitions.
On June 5, salesforce.com announced its intent to acquire ExactTarget for approximately $2.5 billion. On June 6, SAP announced its intent to buy hybris for an undisclosed sum.
Salesforce.com is pushing its way into the CMO’s office (and budget) with its buy of ExactTarget, one of the largest providers of marketing automation solutions. This move helps salesforce.com keep pace with the likes of Oracle (with its purchase of Eloqua late last year) and add significant momentum to its smaller purchases of Radian6 and Buddy Media in the past two years. However, we remain dubious that this will produce the fabled “CRM 2.0” that has been promising a 360-degree view of the customer for many years. Could salesforce.com have built its own ExactTarget solution? Maybe. But this move places Marc Benioff in many CMOs’ offices and wallets today. And that speed-to-credibility is valuable enough to downgrade earnings expectations and pay a 53% share-value premium.
Clearly, SAP is looking to buy its way into the commerce leader category, potentially leveling the playing field in the B2C commerce space against fellow heavyweights IBM and Oracle. At the corporate level, IBM has a head start against SAP, given that it beat SAP to the punch with Sterling Commerce in 2010 (SAP following with hybris this week) and Emptoris in 2011 (SAP following with Ariba in 2012). Interestingly enough, even though hybris has broadened its offerings with increased content management capabilities, the term “digital experience” wasn’t mentioned during SAP’s investor/analyst conference call on June 6.
To get closer to the end customer, enterprise businesses need integrated technology solutions that embrace and support the discipline of customer experience management. As a result, the largest vendors (giants such as IBM, Oracle, and SAP), digital-centric providers like Adobe, and as-a-service players like salesforce.com have been in a feeding frenzy to round out their offerings across the DX space in a race to capture both the IT and marketing leadership’s budget (see graphic below).
Forrester’s take: The concept of a “digital experience platform” will continue to evolve, but the client need to drive tighter relationships with their customers is forcing the largest vendors to place large bets on holistic, platform-level solutions. The rising level of choice among DX platforms is a boon for marketing and IT professionals alike.