announced this week a definitive agreement to acquire data-analytics and visualization  platform provider Tableau Software for upwards of $15 billion in an all stock transaction.  According to Dealogic, the move represents the fourth largest technology deal thus far in 2019. The deal further provides more ample evidence of the recognition of analytics software as a key capability for Cloud based platforms.  Information Technology

Founded in 2003, Seattle based Tableau has garnered the attention of more than 86,000 organizations, including multi-industry supply chain use, and has generated $1.2 billion in revenues.

This week’s announcement represents Salesforce’s biggest acquisition to-date, with the customer relationship management (CRM) Cloud platform provider willing to pay an estimated 42 percent premium for Tableau to make a presence in the hot data analytics growth area. Reporting on the deal, Bloomberg characterized the move as one of the most expensive IT acquisition deals this year. The reaction of investors to the deal was notable, with Tableau stock jumping 34 percent on the news, while investors of Salesforce reacted with driving a 5 percent decline.

According to the announcement, Tableau will continue to operate as an independent brand and its current leadership team and continued to be headquartered in Seattle.

Prior noteworthy acquisitions from Salesforce included the March 2018 announcement  involving the acquisition of applications, data and device integration networks provider MuleSoft in a deal reported to be worth $6.5 B, which was completed in May of that year. That deal had represented the largest value deal for Salesforce at the time. The Tableau deal is yet another strategic move but at a far higher cost point.


What this Acquisition Implies for Supply Chain Management Technology Strategy

Tableau has pioneered intuitive, user-based self-service data analytics by placing powerful data visualization tools on user desktops. That capability has increasingly caught the attention of multi-industry supply chain teams along with some best-of-breed SCM technology providers that license Tableau as an enabler of data visualization. Each has adopted Tableau as a preferential supplemental tool for complex supply chain planning, customer fulfillment or spend management data analysis.

With Tableau now becoming a part of Salesforce, The CRM Cloud provider will gain a noteworthy presence in supply chain wide analytics and decision-making support areas. Both the prior MuleSoft and now Tableau acquisitions further move Salesforce into the general-purpose IT capability support area.

From our Supply Chain Matters lens, Salesforce would be wise to pay close attention to such footholds.

There are likely opportunities to directly leverage Salesforce’s CRM data related to customer buying preferences, intentions or pipeline to supply chain demand and supply planning needs. With the added application-to-application and digital transformation and experience capabilities of MuleSoft and Tableau, new possibilities for unlocking additional B2B data and mini-software applications can be brought to the forefront as-well.

What may quash this opportunity is a move by Salesforce to turn Tableau’s capabilities solely on CRM Cloud analytics needs. There is broader opportunities in spanning CRM with areas of product and supply chain management, not to mention customer services and equipment maintenance.

For multi-industry supply chain management teams currently utilizing Tableau, we advise keeping a keen eye on what strategic direction the analytics provider heads to at post-acquisition. And yes, expect other data analytics software providers catering to SCM needs to start knocking on the door.


Bob Ferrari

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