March 31, 2011, 5:57 PM — Early today, March 30, 2011, Salesforce.com announced its intention to acquire social media analytics specialist Radian6 for $326M in a combination cash and stock deal that is expected to close in Salesforce.com's second fiscal quarter ending July 31, 2011.
This high profile acquisition continues the trend of acquisitions within the CRM market that point to powering CRM offerings with analytic capabilities. The addition of the newly emerged social data to the CRM construct addresses a piece of customer insight that has long been elusive -- 'what is my customer thinking right now?' Radian6's analysis and tracking of customer sentiment addresses that key piece of knowledge which is precisely the lure of social engagement.
Insight or knowledge of and about the customer has long been restricted to the analysis of documented behavior. We find out what is going on with a customer through analyzing their purchase history, their interactions with customer service, whether we lost them as a customer etc. This level of analysis while valuable in its own right falls short in delivering any information on the intangibles of humans. Social data tends to be a direct reflection of motivations and feelings. Interactions in social networks and through social media is bringing this missing piece of customer knowledge. It can answer questions such as, 'How does the customer feel about our company, our product, and our service?"
The immediacy and insight that social networking has brought to the table from a customer standpoint is unique. Unfortunately, the uniqueness has also come with a price. While a plethora of customer emotion and perspective is being played out on the social Web it is unclear what of that data should be tracked, how to best interpret and track it and finally, how best to leverage the data internally for specific business purposes. The discipline of what IDC terms socialytics, and a part of the market in which Radian6 participates, is targeted at addressing these issues.