2020 is a year many businesses are hoping to consign to the history books. But, while some have sadly floundered in what has been an incredibly tough market, others have flourished. Take CRM giant, Salesforce, who just announced an eye-watering $27.7 billion acquisition of Slack, setting them on target to end the year with a bang, not a whimper.
Paving the way for the future of work
In what many have seen as a bold move by Salesforce, its acquisition of Slack gives them access to a new market and opens up new opportunities for diversification, innovation, and future growth. It also brings with it a seemingly diverse set of customers for both companies.
But, perhaps more interestingly, the move looks to be part of a bigger play by Salesforce to become the de facto single screen in an all-digital workplace. With teams now having proved that all-digital can work for them, in the absence of physical office spaces, it’s inevitable that this market will be contested and consolidated.
This latest move by Salesforce positions them to go head-to-head with long-term rivals Microsoft and Google. Many others have tried this move in the past, including Facebook, and even Dropbox, but in a pandemic ravaged economy, this is a war for nothing less than the future of work.
When startup meets stalwart
While Salesforce describes the pairing as a ‘match made in heaven’ many are wondering what the move signifies for Slack. Much has been written about the need for entrepreneurs to resist being ‘swallowed up’ or ‘selling out’ to bigger players in the industry.
Maybe it's the eternal optimist in me, but I don’t see the move as ‘selling-out’ on Slack’s behalf, but instead an opportunity to combine two powerful ecosystems to create new and better ways for people to interact and deliver value in the workplace. In Salesforce, Slack now has the support and backing of a corporate heavy-weight, something they have sorely missed to date.
The harsh reality is that despite the pandemic creating a sweet spot for the use of their tools, Slack was unable to maximise on the opportunity created by the sudden rise of remote working. While Slack hit a ceiling of 12 million active users during the crisis, Microsoft’s stronghold in the corporate world, and its ability to set a near zero price point for enterprise customers saw the adoption of ‘Teams’ surge beyond 115 million users - an incredible 53% uptick on the year previous.
Joining forces with Salesforce will clearly put Slack in a much stronger and healthier position to challenge long-time adversaries like Microsoft and Google in the future. And, although they are not yet on the same level as such industry giants, they are certainly approaching fast in their rearview mirrors.
Richer Ecosystems. Abundant Choice.
From my perspective, bringing Salesforce and Slack together should serve to intensify competition, deepen the possibilities of innovation, and ultimately improve choice for customers. In the new work-from-anywhere reality, location may not hold as much weight as it used to, but choice and availability remain everything.
For Salesforce, this acquisition represents much more than simply expanding its collaboration foothold and capabilities, it means more than some cool new technology for its millions of current users, and it means more than access to a new horizontal market. It’s all of those things as well as a stake in an even bigger game. What’s most intriguing for me is who Salesforce will choose to join forces with next. Could GitHub or Asana be on their radar? Does teaming up with Atlassian, who share Salesforce’s cloud vision make sense? Either way, seeing their next move play out will help to reveal more about their longer-term strategy for market dominance.
The inevitability of technology consolidation is a natural progression for many businesses. In the last few weeks alone we’ve seen a plethora of acquisitions in the market, from Facebook buying Kustomer, Uber snapping up Postmates and ServiceNow boosting its AI capabilities with Element AI - very little seems to be standing still as we reach the end of 2020. If executed well acquisitions like these can bring huge benefits to customers in the form of better products, greater choice, and richer experiences.
But, while many things continue to change around us, one thing holds - technology will continue play a vital role in shaping how we all live, work and communicate in the future. We’re excited to be part of whatever the future holds for enterprise collaboration, and are committed to ensuring our customers are ready to take full advantage.