Salesforce's acquisition of Quip solidifies an important trend in digital experience: the convergence of CRM, collaboration and document management. As Alex Gorbansky, CEO of New York City-based Docurated explained, traditional CRM vendors like Salesforce are pushing document management to deeper levels in a quest to own users’ collaboration and document workflows. 

Earlier this month, Salesforce acquired San-Francisco-based Quip, a document collaboration company for $582 million plus "consideration attributable to Salesforce Ventures’ existing investment" in the company. Salesforce Ventures is the investment arm of Salesforce. It gained a 4-year-old, 40-person startup co-founded by former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor and his friend Kevin Gibbs, who was instrumental in creating Google App Engine and Google Suggest.

It also acquired a suite of productivity tools — desktop and mobile apps  — that Quip’s founders claim run at 2.6 times the speed of Microsoft Office.

Redefining Document Management

A relative newcomer in the marketing content space, Docurated has been building out its platform since its launch in 2012. But Gorbansky acknowledges document management vendors could be faced with the threat for ‘irrelevancy’ from CRM vendors that offer everything.

As a result, mergers, integrations and convergence between document management and CRM and enterprise collaboration vendors has become the new normal. It's the key to remaining relevant, he said.

“A lot of these platforms are getting commoditized. You're seeing it now. You see a lot of legacy content management systems like Documentum and OpenText and others. They’re having a tough time growing,” Gorbansky told CMSWire. Rather than continue to gain most of their revenues from annual maintenance fees, they are looking for new revenue streams and new ways to add value for their customers.

"One way of doing this is by becoming more relevant to the front of the building, to customers, to prospects and by tighter integration with CRM. I can see CRM vendors going in and buying other document management vendors," he continued.

OpenText's Evolution

Waterloo, Ontario-based OpenText is a case in point. Over the past year, while maintaining its feet firmly in the information management and enterprise content management areas, it has slowly evolved its focus to digital transformation. In April, Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP Inc. sold its CX assets to OpenText for $170 million, significantly advancing the company's digital customer experience strategy.

In an interview with CMSWire’s Dom Nicastro, Marci Maddox, OpenText's senior director of product marketing for customer experience management, said the HP customer experience software will allow OpenText customers to build end-to-end digital experiences and lifetime customer journeys. In a word, it is a key to greater diversification.

Adobe Strengthens Doc Management

Then there’s Adobe, which always had a customer-centric view of the world through its Marketing Cloud. In recent months, though, it has started tying its Document Cloud capabilities to the Marketing Cloud with the integrating of Adobe Sign for end-to-end digital processes.

Lisa Croft, group product marketing manager for Adobe Document Cloud, told us at the time that the releases respond to demands by Adobe’s clients for tools and applications that will help them transform from document focused enterprises into digital enterprises capable of delivering optimal digital experiences.

“We are focusing largely on digital transformation because that is what our customers are asking for. Organizations cannot ignore it anymore. It’s something that they really have to do to survive in the industry,” she said. 

3 CRM Trends

Gorbansky said the Quip deal has deep implications for the future of the collaboration and CRM market. CRM workloads are among the most intensive in any company, so it makes sense to bundle CRM content with collaboration and data applications, he explained. There are three trends of note:

1. CRM, Collaboration, Document Management Convergence

By folding Quip into its CRM platform, Salesforce.com is demonstrating that integration alone will no longer cut it. “There will be a convergence between CRM, collaboration and document management,” Gorbansky said. “Historically, these have been separate. You have one application where you put your sales information, and then other applications where you create content and collaborate on it. What Salesforce is saying is ‘screw you Microsoft we are going to do it on our own’.”

Gorbansky points out that the entire customer lifecycle from Sales to Account Management to Support is highly content intensive.

More important, though, is owning the entire content stack and being able to dig into that content for whatever deals are being made. Doing so will make Salesforce stickier and, more importantly, provide it with invaluable data and insight around the content that is most effective at driving deals. 

2. Customer Intelligence

With Quip, Gorbansky said, Salesforce is going in the direction of more customer-centric intelligence.

“It’s not just about what customers should I call, what customers should I follow, or how am I going to hit my forecasts,” he said. “It's about trying to communicate in the right way, trying to articulate a value proposition to your customers and being able to share knowledge in a powerful way.”

To do that, every vendor including Salesforce is talking about things including artificial intelligence, he said.

“By marrying data about your customers with you content, you can start developing very compelling machine learning applications. This means that not only are you able to work out what deals and what opportunities are likely to close, but then you can also work out the predictive content to make them close."

3. More Partnerships and Acquisitions

Salesforce’s competitors in the CRM market — including Oracle, IBM, Infor and Microsoft — will have to respond to remain competitive. Lightweight integrations with collaboration and document management players will no longer cut it.

Instead, Salesforce competitors will have to partner with acquire collaboration or document management technologies

“You are going to see other platforms trying to acquire or develop content management and development capabilities and you are also going to see the document management vendors trying to build much tighter integrations with CRM players otherwise they are going to get completely [sidelined],” Gorbansky added.