Acquisitions in the technology space usually generate big headlines and a crazy amount of buzz when they happen. Everyone is super excited about the “paradigm shift”, the “game changer” and the “new market landscape”. Usually these acquisitions render a lot of strategic value, at least for the acquiring part of the transaction, and often good outcomes for the acquired company, its founders, investors and shareholders. The only group that very rarely seem to gain anything from these transactions are:
We’ve seen it time and time again in marketing technology, and in an extreme version in the emerging enterprise software field of Social Media Management or Social Relationship Management. Since 2010, established enterprise software companies have gobbled up a plethora of one- and two-trick ponies, and whacked them together into “suites” that are only held together by a thin veil of packaging and messaging.
Enter the Frankensuites
Salesforce.com has absorbed Radian6, Assistly, BuddyMedia (which itself consumed Spinback and Brighter Option) and ExactTarget (shortly after completing its own annexation of the four companies CoTweet, Pardot, KeyMail and iGoDigital).
Larry Ellison of Oracle certainly didn’t want to miss out, so he followed suit by buying a series of overlapping vendors over the summer of 2012 including Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver. Only the Vitrue product really survived the integration grinder, but is left as a stale incumbent solution named Oracle Social, while Involver famously got shut down with short notice in the summer of 2013. Larry would need to buy again, and so he did, by acquiring Eloqua, Responsys and BlueKai to build an adjacent, more B2B-focused Marketing Automation offering.
Adobe bought Efficient Frontier, Context Optional and Neolane, the latter turning – virtually overnight – into “Adobe Campaign”, a part of their Marketing Cloud offering. This spurred interesting situations at trade shows where Adobe reps were asked about the capabilities of the fast growing amoeba known as the Adobe Marketing Cloud, and they would literally respond something like:
“Dude, I just arrived from Neolane, so I don’t really know…”
With Google now subtly discontinuing Wildfire, we are seeing a new variant of the post-acquisition collapse, in which a rather broad suite is being totally dismantled for absorption into a larger entity, thus evaporating completely and causing the most extreme example of customer abandonment in the Social Media Management space to date. I genuinely feel sorry for the few marketers and procurement people that went with Wildfire in recent quarters. This is very much in line with Google’s acquisition habits, where a majority of acquired products have either been terminated, pickled or morphed into something quite different.
Analysts such as Gartner and Forrester have their eyes on these trends, and their view on the market can roughly be boiled down to:
- Many one-trick point vendors – such as standalone monitoring tools – will cease to exist on their own.
- You need to cover many disciplines such as Listening, Reach, Engagement and Analytics.
- The FrankenSuites aren’t innovating, and don’t create coherent experiences between their constituent parts.
So what should marketers, customer service reps and communications professionals do? Trying to build a solution that covers all necessary use cases across Monitoring, Engagement, Content Marketing, Paid Amplification, Analytics and more by stitching together a patchwork of point vendors is a daunting task. It will never give the coherent workflow that people have come to expect from modern, consumerized software tools. Employees demand ease of use and productivity gains, at the risk of tools not being fully adopted in the first place, no matter who spearheads the purchasing decision.
The organically grown suite
At Falcon.io we are dedicated to building out complete functionality across all departments and functions in the Social Enterprise. Our “Unified is Better” mantra guides us as we expand our offering in this new Enterprise Software category, and continue to build tools that customers love using.
If you’re caught mid-air in the Wildfire collapse, we’re able to create an incredibly fast transition to the Falcon platform, and we have advisors ready to answer any questions you may have.
Ulrik Bo Larsen
Founder & CEO, Falcon.io