My iPhone blew up this morning.  Colleagues, friends, semi-strangers all DM’ing, emailing, texting the news: just bought Radian6.  Remarkably, nobody even pointed to financials ($326M in cash and stock) like they do with most acquisitions.  Instead everyone wanted to share their perspective on what this deal signaled from a strategic standpoint.

Here’s ours: CRM and social are no longer adjacent industries.  The gate has been lifted, the bull has entered the rodeo, and it’s going to be a wild ride for participants and spectators alike.

As compelling as this announcement was, it wasn’t exactly a surprise.  In fact, it was the “secret” all over town.  Salesforce has always been a future-forward company when it comes to social.  When they “integrated” Twitter, it gave the micro-blogging platform credibility in the enterprise.  Their Service Cloud already brokers input and response via social channels.  And, of course, they’ve thrown their considerable weight behind Chatter, their own homegrown social tool.  News?  Yes.  Surprise? No.

By now everyone has read the three tactical pillars of this acquisition:

  1. Salesforce will integrate Radian6 into their Sales and Service Cloud, giving reps on both ends of the customer lifecycle much-needed insights into buyers and prospects.
  2. Salesforce will integrate Radian6 into Chatter to feed “public” conversations on the social Web into an enterprise’s partitioned Chatter feeds.
  3. Through its platform, Salesforce will empower developers to build apps that extend the functionality of Radian6.

But in this case the whole is even more interesting than the sum of its parts.  You see, in some ways, Salesforce is executing against the Revenue Performance Management (RPM) strategy that we have been espousing lately.  Our vision, which clearly is shared by Salesforce, is to provide clients with a 360-degree view of their buyers.  Today, Eloqua maintains the buyer profiles for the marketing departments of some of the world’s largest, fastest-growing and best-known enterprises.  In fact, we manage over 1.7 billion profiles for our clients – profiles that include not only who the prospects are, but also actionable details on all-important interactions with the organization.  Interactions like Web visits, downloads, event attendance, etc.  Bringing in the “social” persona is a natural next step.

We’ve been marching steadily toward this objective in a number of ways, including our Cloud Connectors strategy, which allows Eloqua to “connect” with a variety of third-party applications, including Radian6, to unify our clients’ marketing activities on a central platform. In other words, and Eloqua share the same path, and our friends on the Bay just cleared a lot of thicket with this acquisition.  We already tightly integrate with Salesforce, and we expect this latest move will make integrating the social profiles that much easier for our clients.

Of course, there’s an elephant in the corner, and its name is “Marketing Cloud.”  Conspicuously absent from Salesforce’s network of role-specific “Clouds” is one that centers on the marketing function.  Is the Radian6 acquisition the beginning of a Salesforce Marketing Cloud?  Someone on the investor conference call asked Marc Benioff whether this was the first move toward business-to-consumer.  His answer was worth noting: We’re really seeing the beginning here of the Marketing Cloud. Given the excitement we have seen around Revenue Performance Management – a discipline that requires both sales and marketing data – in the executive suite, it is not surprising to see Salesforce moving this direction.  This certainly is an exciting place to be.

This is our perspective.  We look forward to hearing yours.  In particular, we’re eager to hear the thoughts of folks like Paul Greenberg, “the father of Social CRM” and Jonathan Block of SiriusDecisions, who has an uncanny knack for getting to the heart of business matters.