Why Did Salesforce Acquire Evergage CDP?

Evergage CEO & Co-Founder Karl Wirth announced the CDP vendor has been acquired by Salesforce.

Everage plus Salesforce

A Bit of Salesforce History

In the past, Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Bob Stutz called CDPs as a "passing fad." But that position changed over time as Salesforce has slowly begun to get a better handle on customer data outside the blinders of its CRM and Marketing Cloud offerings. 

The company announced its "Customer 360" initiative in 2018. The idea was to bring together customer profiles from Salesforce Marketing Cloud (ExactTarget), Sales, and Service Clouds, along with Commerce Cloud (Demandware). As you probably know, these systems deploy with totally different data stores and architectures.  So when you encountered a cross-cloud use case (such as relating a transaction in the marketing cloud to a transaction in commerce cloud), it was a non-trivial effort to pull together the customer profile from different clouds. You needed a way just to tie together data from Salesforce’s own offerings. 

Initially, Customer 360 was able to stitch some records together, but did not copy all data to one place (like a pro forma CDP should do). So, more recently, in March 2019, the company announced the pending development of a formal CDP. This offering will build on and extend Customer 360 to provide a more complete environment. It's still in beta.

The CDP part of Customer 360 will build on several products and services that Salesforce already owns, mostly via acquisitions. In particular, Datorama provides some key functionality here for data integration and analytics. In addition to Datorama, other key Salesforce offerings that are relevant for providing CDP capabilities are Salesforce Journey Builder, Salesforce Interaction Studio (an OEM'ed journey orchestration engine), and Mulesoft (another tool for data integration). Salesforce also has a DMP (Krux) and its investment arm has invested in other pure-play CDP vendors.

So, you see, that’s a lot of cobbling here, and the acquisition of Evergage suggests more pieces yet to come. 

What About Evergage?

I suspect Salesforce understand that maturing Customer 360 into a complete CDP offering that could compete with specialist CDP vendors will take a long time. Specialist CDP vendors provide a lot of additional, albeit sometimes optional, capabilities that can complement CDP. 

This is where Evergage comes in. 

Two major CDP scenario that we evaluate products on are Personalization and Recommendations. Evergage excels at both these scenarios. The table below is a partial output from our RealTime Vendor Comparison tool.

Evergage Salesforce Comparison
Fig. Partial Salesforce-Evergage Scenario Evaluation.  Source: RSG RealTime decision support platform.

So Evergage will fill in a major gap in Salesforce’s current offering. Plus Evergage also offers broader data science and management services, as well as machine learning-based analytics that could complement (or befuddle) Salesforce Einstein. 

The larger story bears repeating: CDPs now target wide variety of scenarios and you may need more than one platform for your needs. Salesforce itself has a history of acquiring multiple, overlapping products to target different use cases; this can be good for new customers, but sometimes problematic for existing licensees.

What Should You Do?

For now, consider Evergage on its own merit, and not just because it’s become a part of Salesforce. Any serious integration will take time.  

The CDP marketplace will continue to change and we are likely to see other acquisitions, potentially by SAP, Oracle, and others. At RSG we work to keep track of the marketplace so you don’t have to. If you subscribe to our CDP vendor evaluation research, you can check out the RealTime Vendor Comparison tool at any time.

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