Every few years, the biggest of the tech giants undertake massive acquisition sprees. Yet another one might be upon us: Salesforce and Google have begun snatching up enterprise-centric data analytics firms, in what could prove a harbinger of big (and expensive) things to come.
First, Google paid a pretty penny ($2.6 billion) for Looker, a data analytics startup that’s managed to collect $280 million in venture funding. It intends to mash Looker’s offerings with Google Cloud, allowing companies to perform deeper cloud-based analytics and business-intelligence (B.I.).
Not to be outdone, Salesforce dropped $1.57 billion on Tableau, a mature company that specializes in data analytics and visualization. Presumably, Salesforce will integrate Tableau’s offerings into its existing product line, allowing customers to analyze cloud databases, visualize spreadsheets, and generally manipulate business data. “Tableau helps people see and understand data, and Salesforce helps people engage and understand customers,” Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s co-CEO, wrote in a statement when the deal was announced on June 10.
Other data-centric companies took immediate note of the Salesforce move. “Salesforce just made it clear that it is very serious about investing in the data analytics space and that we should expect its analytics business to drive a significant amount of revenue in the future,” Daniel Herdean, CEO of Cognetik, a data science and analytics firm, wrote in a statement. “Salesforce has been making a number of moves recently around trying to grow its footprint and influence within the data analytics space—and this is one of the first real indicators that we need to be taking it seriously in the analytics space.”
If you’ve been following the enterprise tech-space for some time, you might recall how, back in 2013, Salesforce and other tech giants rushed to snatch up a host of digital-marketing and analytics companies in order to buttress its cloud-based marketing tools. Fearing the competition, Oracle began its own rush of cloud-marketing acquisitions.
Now the race is on to build out as many cloud-centric data-analytics tools as possible—or buy them, if time is of the essence. The business cloud has matured to the point where companies (and the tech professionals actually interacting with those platforms) aren’t just happy with cloud storage and compute; now they want a bevy of options to serve every possible business function, from analytics to customer-service management and infrastructure automation.
Cloud infrastructure has also reached the point where it can deliver more tools (and analytics) without the much-dreaded lag, meaning that tech vendors can offer a greater number of off-premises solutions. That’s great for workers who need to crunch data. By adding these products to their respective portfolios, companies such as Salesforce and Google make their clouds “stickier,” meaning it’s less likely that their customers will jump to a rival vendor.
Of course, if these acquisitions are indeed the tip of the proverbial iceberg, then we’ll see other companies (such as Microsoft and Oracle) make their own rounds of cloud-based acquisitions in coming weeks. Plus, once a company begins an M&A spree, it’s sometimes hard to stop—a large number of small companies could get snatched up before it’s over. In other words, Salesforce and Google might just keep buying.
Impact on Jobs
All that M&A action could end up having a huge impact on tech professionals who specialize in anything related to end-user analytics. Data analysts and B.I. specialists, for example, could find themselves targeted by companies that have acquired these new cloud-based tools and need someone to operate them. Tech firms, anxious to avoid being left behind by the Salesforces and Googles of the world, might also hire these types of workers to build their own tools (or augment existing products).
The expensive acquisition of Tableau might also convince more funders and companies to plunge into the data-visualization space, which could increase the demand for tech professionals who specialize in visualizing datasets. UX and UI experts could likewise find themselves in higher demand by companies that need new tools built out.
The good thing about M&A action is that it can lead to spiked interest in tech professionals in certain categories. Watch for that to happen here; although to be fair, data engineers were already in pretty high demand.