Salesforce has acquired business intelligence and analytics startup EdgeSpring, and the company’s Marketing Cloud is expanding yet again only a week after the company spent US$ 2.5 billion on email marketing vendor ExactTarget.

BI in the Enterprise is Messy

EdgeSpring is obviously a much smaller company than ExactTarget, and Salesforce didn't even announce the acquisition. Instead, EdgeSpring posted a message on its website about the move, in turn disabling the rest of the contents therin. Whether this means Salesforce intends to shut down the company's existing services isn't known, and the price Salesforce paid is also only speculative.

However, when a company the size of Salesforce buys up a marketing firm and an analytics firm in the same week, it's a clear signal it wants to push hard into the digital marketing space. And why not? Lead nurturing and scoring and campaign management are sorely needed tools for moving customers into the funnel, a good matchup with Salesforce's core CRM ability.

"Business intelligence and analytics in the enterprise is massively painful and IMHO still largely an unsolved problem today," Vijay Chakravarthy, EdgeSpring CEO, posted on the company's website.

Chakravarthy's comment is one reason why there has been a good deal of M&A movement in the last several months, and why we suspect it will continue for another year at minimum. For Salesforce, it now has full featured email marketing solution (and slew of new customers) in ExactTarget, and now the analytics tools from EdgeSpring. The question is will it be enough to keep up with Oracle, IBM and Adobe.

Learning Opportunities

Salesforce vs Oracle, IBM + Adobe

Salesforce is ready to heave its latest haul into its Marketing Cloud, and it may indeed be enough to challenge the likes of Adobe. As for Oracle and IBM, we think Salesforce is still likely behind them in the digital marketing space, simply on account of how massive those companies are. Enterprises do their digital marketing business with them because they can be a one stop shop for just about every IT need.

Of course, Salesforce would like its customers to see it the same way, but it's not there yet. On the marketing side, depending on how Salesforce pulls off the ExactTarget and EdgeSpring integration, it could certainly become a segment leader in the space. In Gartner's latest Campaign Management MQ, both Adobe and ExactTarget were named as visionaries, right below the challengers and leaders.

Adobe received marks for its analytics and segmentation ability, and ExactTarget won kudos on account of its nearly US$ 300 million in revenue in 2012. ExactTarget and the EdgeSpring analytics ability could be just the recipe for Salesforce to vault over Adobe.