Salesforce and Slack: What it May Mean for the Future of Enterprise Tech

December 9th, 2020

Topics: Cloud Computing Consumerization of IT Enterprise IT Future of Work Marketing / Sales

It’s been just over a week since Salesforce announced its plans to acquire Slack in a deal worth $27 billion, and there is no shortage of opinions on the matter. A good portion of these opinions (ours included) believe the Slack acquisition elevates Salesforce’s position to challenge Microsoft’s dominance in enterprise technology and workplace collaboration. 

However, our view isn’t simply that Salesforce now has a direct competitive offering to Microsoft’s. Our stance is that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is making a big bet that the technology decision makers of companies today and well into the future are the CMOs of organizations, not the CIOs of years past. A recent report from Gartner found marketing as an outlier during the COVID-19 crisis, with growing budgets – especially for technology spending, while most other functions are seeing moderate to significant budget cuts across North American and Western Europe.

After years of acquisitions (Mulesoft, Tableau, and now Slack), Salesforce knows that “tech” is no longer led by the CTO or CIO. Instead, Salesforce (and Marc Benioff) view “tech” as a critical business enabler no longer owned  by IT departments. 

In contrast to Microsoft’s business strategy, which thrives where IT departments and CIOs are the gatekeepers of corporate tech (especially as it leads with cloud computing as a core component of its sales strategy), Salesforce is charting a different path focused on building and selling software directly to core business functions and their leaders.  Salesforce’s purchase of Slack further solidifies the differences in how Benioff and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella view the future of enterprise technology. 

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