I just finished (last night) a joint research project (with Denis Pombriant) that was a bear to do and its now done and that's just good. I'm now free to write other things including CRM at the Speed of Light's 4th Edition - and this blog. I'm free to do Experience on the Edge and work on presentations that I have to do for that upcoming webinar.
AND I'm also free enough to make an observation about something that I thought was VERY interesting - VERY interesting, possibly the start of a trend (though who knows?), and certainly a flag that alerted me (and hopefully you) to something I think is important.
About four days ago or so, there was an article in SearchCRM entitled "Web 2.0 Firm Buys CRM Vendor Talisma." Another acquisition? you might think So friggin' what? you might think. Companies buy companies all the time. CRM companies are integrating Web 2.0 technologies into their applications all the time - either through native development or acquisition, you might think.
If you think that, shame on you. Not because what you think isn't true - it is. More and more frequently we're seeing CRM 2.0 or as Oracle's specific take on it goes, Sales 2.0 - the integration of Web 2.0 technologies, and to the best companies, Web 2.0 thinking, into the more traditional CRM operational side.
But this is different.
See what this says: Web 2.0 Firm Buys CRM Vendor.....
CRM Firm Buys Web 2.0 Vendor.
One more time
Web 2.0 Firm Buys CRM Vendor Talisma.
For the first time that I can find or heard, a Web 2.0 vendor acquired a CRM vendor - reversing the usual process and indicating something very important about the confluence of Web 2.0 and CRM into a CRM 2.0. It means that not only are CRM vendors recognizing the importance of collaborative technologies so that they can work with their customers to develop mutually beneficial value, but Web 2.0 firms are getting over their "we are too cool for traditional business, so we have to figure out only our own path" atttitude that marks so many of them and their young creators.
And that is REALLY cool.
nGenera sure gets it. Listen to what the CEO of nGenera, the ironically named Steve Papermaster said about the acquisition (more on Talisma in a minute):
"The future of innovation is customer co-creation: talking directly to customers, listening to them, learning from them. We're taking content and processes from customer interaction software and mashing that with Web 2.0 collaboration tools to help companies discover brilliant new product ideas inspired by their own customers."
Bravo. Well said, Steve. You are SO right even if this is more of a vision than a reality at this point. Acquisitions like this one make that vision more of a reality, though. I hope.
I didn't really know nGenera so I've checked into what they do - just by web surfing, though. I'll do a more thorough lookup later. I've found a few things.
- They came into existence as BSG Alliance to do what is apparently rolllups of companies that would get them into next gen solutions built around collaboration. They seem to be well-funded by VCers especially Oak Investment Partners (who also either owned or had a stake in Talisma). They, since they started their existence in 2007, have acquired Kalivo, Inc., maker of Web 2.0, on-demand collaboration software, The Concours Group, a research and executive education company, Industrial Science, a business simulation software company; most interesting New Paradigm, Don Tapscott of multi-book but currently Wikinomics fame; then Iconixx Corporation, a compensation strategy and services entity and now Talisma, a highly verticalized CRM software company. They seem to have had a lot of bucks to do this with - with over $70 million in VC funds to buy, buy, buy.
They became nGenera in April of this year with what they call "a fully-integrated on-demand product suite focusing on leadership performance, talent management and development and the customer experience." There is a certain coherence to that product suite, though its of an unusual sort. They are covering management (leadership performance), employees (talent management and development) and customers (customer experience). They have a decidedly 2.0 approach to it all with the idea of improvement through collaboration among "value chains" (that's me talking, not them) - the extended enterprise value chain and the personal/matrix value chain of the customer. Again, that's my interpretation, not theirs.
That's what makes the acquisition of Talisma particularly interesting to me - two reasons.
- This is the first time a Web 2.0 company (with clearly lots of $$$ to spend) acquired a CRM property and not vice-versa and I suspect it won't be the last. I think that more and more, Web 2.0 companies who have been giddy with their technological coolness are realizing that CRM is an ideal entry point into mainstream business for actually making money with their incredibly clever technologies. It takes consumer technologies and makes them valuable to Enterprise 2.0.
- For those of you who don't know Talisma, they are a knockout good CRM company that has been specifically focused around customer service software. They call their offering a Customer Interaction Management (CIM - Yay for another acronynm) solution (they have both on premise and on demand versions). I've always thought highly of them. They have a strong set of vertical offerings including financial services (though it seems everyone's strong offering is financial services. If that's true, why are banks and insurance companies so screwed up?) and they are definitely a multi-channel provider with everything from voice mail and VOIP to email and self-service.
One final thing.
Check out John Ragsdale's thinking on this matter. John is an analyst for the SSPA - the Service Support Professionals Association and one of the most astute (and edgy) analysts out there. Always worth reading and this one is a good one.
I can't spend any more time on this today because I have to go cool my personal jets for awhile, but the event is important.
The first time a Web 2.0 company bought a CRM company.
Man bites dog is always good for a conversation.