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July 10, 2012

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Salesforce.com Acquisition of GoInstant: What it Says About The Cloud and Customer Support

All of us at Glance were excited to hear yesterday the announcement that GoInstant is being acquired by Salesforce.com. Today's Wall Street Journal puts the deal at north of $70 million, while All Things D pegs it at $76 million. We've been watching several big changes in the market over the years and it's great to see our vision for social selling trends and the future of B2B sales and marketing validated by this news.

Marc Benioff's latest move underscores two big shifts happening in today's sales and support space:

  1. Companies large and small are realizing the value of migrating management of their entire customer lifecycle to the cloud -- not just the sales process. We're excited to see the Salesforce juggernaut double down on this trend, both in terms of what it means for the customer service market as a whole and (selfishly?) for ourselves as an AppExchange partner.
  2. Pairing next-generation screen sharing and co-browsing technologies with traditional voice and chat takes customer sales and support to a whole new level of productivity. Instead of wrestling with a heavy-duty web meeting tool like WebEx or GoToMeeting, which can take minutes to download and still not connect, innovative companies realize huge productivity gains by instantly seeing what's being discussed.

The first point is no surprise.  As Salesforce.com continues its push towards enabling "The Social Enterprise," adding screen sharing and co-browsing to customer interactions is a no-brainer.  An instant web demo tool can help companies shorten their sales cycle and boost close rates, sharply reducing their sales and marketing cost-per-close.

Obviously all of us at Glance have a biased opinion on the second point -- the inherent power of super-simple screen sharing and co-browsing. We applaud seeing these services becoming a standard in many enterprises. GoInstant's acquisition proves that regardless of what's happening with "commodity" web meeting services, innovative approaches to lightweight screen sharing and co-browsing can deliver huge value. Eliminating downloads, connecting instantly, and making a service easy to integrate with enterprise tools in the sales and service clouds is the next wave of opportunity in our space.

Looking forward, we see two major verticals where we anticipate more M&A activity. The first is other CRM vendors, like Oracle, Microsoft and SAP.  (Actually, you could say Oracle struck first, with its acquisition of RightNow.)  As Salesforce.com races to roll out new features built from its GoInstant acqusition, competitors will need to respond.  

The second is the call center vertical:  players like Cisco, Avaya and Genesys Labs, who need to move their agent desktops beyond traditional voice and chat, so their customers can also "speak" the rich media language of online sales and support to the world of mobile devices.

Then there are companies like Apple, which has already been testing innovative new ways to engage customers in their online store.  Check them out (from a browser in Europe or Brazil) to experience the future, today.

It's exciting to watch innovations like these disrupt the market. Here at Glance we look forward to being a part of it, providing fast, dependable and secure screen sharing and co-browsing for all.

Rich Baker is the CEO & Founder of Glance

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