This is interesting.
Salesforce has bought companies before but it has brought them into the fold, absorbing their technology into the core product and casting off the branding for the most part. With the JigSaw acquisition, they’re doing something different. Apparently the Jigsaw brand will be kept and it will be known as a salesforce.com company. I don’t believe this has happened before. I wonder if this marks a permanent change of direction or if, in the future, there will be rules that govern whether Salesforce keeps a company’s branding in tact. What are the rules?
It’s interesting that Salesforce.com announced its intent to buy Jigsaw, a crowd sourcing data service provider for sales organizations. Jigsaw provides complete and accurate contact and organization information to sales and marketing organizations that need to strategize campaigns.
Just the other day I was thinking about, and therefore writing about, the loss of attention that conventional B2B CRM has suffered from during the advent of social CRM. This announcement makes it clear that core or B2B CRM is still important and that it has different requirements and operates differently from consumer driven CRM.
Jigsaw’s attraction resides in its crowd sourcing style of data accumulation. Users of the service can contribute contact information in exchange for other information. The result is that the service becomes “smarter” over time as its content becomes richer and larger.
Of course, correct contact information is not a lead but it’s a start. Users still have to go through the process of determining if there is interest and budget before converting a contact to a lead or further distinguishing it as an opportunity. Nonetheless, one of the big annoyances that many prospective buyers have is being barraged by irrelevant offers. If the combination of Jigsaw and Salesforce can produce better targeted offers, offers that make sense to the recipients, then the combination will have done its job.
No demand generation system will ever be perfect but refining the way one organization targets another can do a lot to enhance the credibility of the offering party.
The acquisition also fits the Salesforce approach of using social media and Enterprise 2.0 techniques both within and outside of an organization to mobilize both employees and customers. The acquisition of Jigsaw enables Salesforce to do both and if the chatter around Chatter is accurate we should look for ways that employees can leverage the combination of Chatter and Jigsaw in the near future.
My only quibble is the purchase price. $142 million seems like a lot of money and it may reflect Salesforce’s impatience with building its own version. That impatience may be fueled by a need to produce a killer Chatter application. I am sure we’ll hear more on this in the not too distant future.