The Salesforce Acquisition of Tableau: Customer Impact One Year Later


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Before Salesforce’s stunning acquisition of Slack for $27.7B just a few weeks ago, its most significant acquisition was that of Tableau for $15.7B in 2019 to bolster their analytic software, Einstein.  Tableau was the leading analytics platform and brought over 86,000 customers to the Salesforce family, including such names as Charles Schwab, Honeywell, Verizon, REI, and Lufthansa, to name a few.  Salesforce had operated Tableau as a subsidiary under their business analytics umbrella as opposed to completely absorbing the company.

After more than a year since its purchase, the initial wave of integration into the Salesforce ecosystem has just begun.  Given this, it is important that customers understand what could be impacted in their portfolio moving forward, specifically related to products and support.

What’s in a Name?

On the product side, Tableau announced in October that they will bring together Tableau and Salesforce’s Einstein Analytics, renaming Einstein Analytics to Tableau CRM.  The integration will take a year or two, but future alignment plans include:

  • Connecting Tableau natively to the Einstein Analytics data store which will take advantage of the performance optimizations and native Salesforce security integration.
  • Data preparation capabilities that read and write to both Tableau and Einstein Analytics, helping ensure clean and trusted data, ready for analysis, is available to everyone.
  • Content portability between Tableau and Einstein Analytics to streamline creation of dashboards and make it easier for everyone to access it.

Salesforce has started integrating Tableau into Customer 360 with many of their most important services.  Most of the integration is now in the form of connectors which tether Tableau to products such as MuleSoft, in order to enhance their capabilities with the data analytics tools that Tableau offers.  However, there are some changes that could have larger impacts to customers who may not be aware of them.  The renaming of Einstein Analytics to Tableau CRM is one such change.

The shift to Tableau CRM will rename the product entirely as well as merge Tableau’s data analytics capabilities together with the machine learning capabilities of Einstein.  While a name change and enhanced capabilities may seem simple enough, it could have serious impact on a customer’s renewal moving forward.

By changing the name of the product and adding capabilities, Salesforce has essentially created a new product which could lead to previously negotiated commercial concessions becoming null and void.  Any upcoming purchases or renewals need to be carefully negotiated to ensure that Salesforce will be upholding their end of the bargain when it comes to commercial concessions or discounting that may have been negotiated in the past.

For Salesforce users that have not been Tableau customers, Salesforce has been proposing the Tableau product, but not forcing it.  The transition has been slower and there remains a large opportunity for Salesforce with its large customer base.  The future is bright for Salesforce – now considered a true enterprise supplier.

Tableau’s Support

In addition to commercial concessions and discounting on new products, support services are just as important when it comes to purchasing software.  As we work with customers through the integration of Salesforce and Tableau, we have noticed how much they use Tableau’s support services and how positive customers have felt toward these services.

While Salesforce has not announced any immediate changes to support, it is important to keep support in mind throughout the negotiation and ensure that material changes to support offerings that could occur in the future will be properly announced to customers. This transparency will guarantee that customers will not be blindsided in the future.  Since there is genuinely a more positive view of Tableau’s support than that of Salesforce, awareness of potential changes is even more important if support is rolled under Salesforce in the future.

While Salesforce will be running Tableau as a subsidiary, this does not mean that customers should still be “siloed” into purchasing Tableau separate from any larger agreements that are currently in place with Salesforce.  Customers that are looking at making a purchase or have an upcoming renewal should look at the relationship in a holistic manner and fold in Tableau with any larger Salesforce agreements that may be in place.

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