Salesforce acquisition of RelateIQ a CRM game-changer

Startup captures data to provide insights into customer habits

Jul 14, 2014 @ 11:07 am

By Joyce Hanson

In announcing its $390 million acquisition of data science company RelateIQ, customer relationship management giant Salesforce.com Inc. is upping the ante for other CRM product providers, including those that only serve the advisory industry.

RelateIQ, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based intelligent computing startup, automatically captures data from email, calendars and smartphone calls to provide data-science-driven insights in real time, according to Salesforce's 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The RelateIQ acquisition has brought Salesforce out of its comfort zone and makes it a stronger competitor against adviser-specific CRMs, said Raj Udeshi, co-founder of startup HiddenLevers, a web-based risk management tool for advisers.

RelateIQ’s CRM tool, which includes smartphone apps, lets work teams merge contacts and capture all client interactions, showing a “unified customer experience” so two colleagues never email a client the same question. It also shows the last conversation clients had with a team member, sorts a pipeline by the clients who need immediate attention, flags unanswered emails and shares LinkedIn and Twitter links with all team members.

Big companies often buy startups to acquire new technologies rather than investing R&D costs on untested tech such as big data, Mr. Udeshi said.

“They buy instead of build,” he said.

Salesforce wouldn't buy a Redtail or a Junxure, CRMs offered specifically to advisers, according to Mr. Udeshi, because the large publicly traded company would rather focus on strategic acquisitions that broaden its product offerings.

“There doesn't seem to be much consolidation in the advisory world for CRMs,” Mr. Udeshi said. “I don't remember the last time a CRM was bought.”

In InvestmentNews' 2013 technology survey Salesforce placed third, at 9.8%, among most popular CRM products. Redtail placed first, at 39.5%, and Junxure placed second, at 19.2%.

Salesforce company spokeswoman Gina Sheibley declined to provide any additional commentary on the acquisition other than what RelateIQ Chief Executive Steve Louglin wrote in a blog post on Friday.

“RelateIQ is pioneering the next generation of intelligent computing through data science and machine learning,” Mr. Louglin wrote. “Looking ahead, Salesforce.com's acquisition of RelateIQ will extend the value of Salesforce.com's #1 CRM apps and platform with a new level of intelligence across sales, service and marketing.”

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