The big guns of customer relationship management--Oracle and Salesforce.com--continue to vie for dominance through acquisitions.
Back in March, Salesforce.com enhanced its social strategy and Service Cloud 3 offer with a $326 million purchase of Radian6, the popular social-media monitoring platform. Last week, Oracle made competitive moves to boost its cloud business announcing a $1.5 billion purchase of RightNow, the customer service monitoring company. For that price, Oracle will get a nice set of social cloud applications and some 2,000 reported customers.
Oracle's stockpile of cash and savvy acquisitions has heated up its rivalry with Salesforce in the customer relationship management (CRM) space. Oracle's assets for CRM range from Siebel On Demand, Inquira, InstantService, PeopleSoft, and ATG. Meanwhile, Salesforce has made some purchases of their own, including the recent acquisition of Assistly to augment its existing Service Cloud offering.
All this spending shows some genuine momentum for customer service management vendors. While Radian6 and RightNow are off the table, there's no shortage of companies pushing strong social and cloud offers.
I recently spoke to Sam Keninger, head of product marketing at Medallia, about the company's launch of Medallia Social Feedback--a platform that brings social media analytics and geo-location to market as a part of a full customer experience management suite, according to Keninger.
Medallia takes social media management out of a siloed products and puts it into a platform clients already use to analyze and respond to other customer feedback channels including e-mail-, Web-, and receipt-based surveys; call center feedback; and custom feedback channels for verticals and business-to business transactions.
Though Medallia touts customers like Four Seasons, Hilton, Sephora, American Express, and Gold's Gym, it doesn't yet have the client volume of RightNow or Radian6. Still, its unified platform (which integrates unstructured social feedback data with structured survey data) could make it an attractive acquisition target. Another attractive aspect is the fact that the platform already works with Salesforce, Siebel, and other enterprise relationship management tools.
Most would agree that there is value in customer relation tools, but it remains to be seen if these types of tools do better on their own or as part of a bigger package. Certainly the bigger vendors have a broader channel to sell through, but I wonder how much customers care.