Experts Respond to Salesforce' Acquisition of Social Media Monitoring Firm

Contributor:  Customer Management IQ
Posted:  04/08/2011  12:00:00 AM EDT
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Salesforce – a company offering cloud-based computing solutions for customer relationship management issues – recently announced an agreement to acquire Radian6. Radian6 is a leading provider of technology that monitors millions of conversations across myriad social media platforms. The company works with many Fortune 100 companies. Salesforce also recently spoke with CMIQ about its social media strategies.

Consensus is that this move, coming on the heels of several other similar acquisitions, solidifies a distinct trend in the social media analytics market. Lithium Technologies and Marketwire, which provide similar services as Salesforce, both recently purchased social media monitoring experts of their own.

By acquiring Radian6, Salesforce will be able to offer top-of-the-line social media monitoring that is fully integrated with their cloud computing technology.

“Not only will this acquisition accelerate our growth, it will extend the value of all of our offerings,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, in a press release.

Experts and analysts don’t dispute Benioff’s claim.

“The capability to integrate social data and insight into enterprise applications will shift this year from a differentiator to a requirement for social analytics providers,” wrote Susan Etlinger, a long-time social technology consultant, on her blog.

But some, including Etlinger, express reservations. While experts consider the moves essential for the success of social media programs, they stress the difficulties of maturing an “extremely immature market,” as Etlinger puts it.

Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst for the Altimeter Group, recently released a detailed 27-page study of the social media market titled, “Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist.” In it, he found that only 23 percent of social strategists have a formalized program with long-term direction.

However, the fast-moving nature of social media technology, combined with the demands of the consumer, might necessitate the early maturation of the social media analytics market.

“The social customer is forcing businesses to adapt processes and systems as their behavior as their needs and expectations are evolving,” wrote Brian Solis, whose book Engage directs organizations on building and measuring their social web presence.

In Solis' eyes, all businesses must become social businesses. He references one of Owyang’s findings that half of social media programs are housed inside of a marketing department.

“In order for a business to become a social business, it requires the creation of bridges between business functions and social customers,” Solis wrote.

But for now, much of the monitoring and analytical data out there remains simply numbers. What to do with those numbers remains an enigma.

“There is quite a way to go before this industry truly delivers on its promise to deliver insight – not just data – to the enterprise,” Etlinger wrote.

Customer Management IQ Contributor:   Customer Management IQ

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