(Pictured) Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Source: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for WIRED25 / AFP

(Pictured) Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Source: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for WIRED25 / AFP

Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau is a $15b bet on data analytics

DATA ANALYTICS is critical for organizations in this day and age — we all know that — but insights are best understood when visualized intuitively rather than presented in long-format pivot tables.

In the world of data, artificial intelligence (AI) is king.

It’s what experts believe will help tame the data storm and create real-time insights that can be used not just by board members making strategic decisions but also by managers making daily operational decisions.

The guys at Salesforce figured this out. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, the company’s M&A specialist who acquired 60 companies in 20 years, has just bet US$15.3 billion on data analytics and visualization giant Tableau.

“Tableau helps people see and understand data, and Salesforce helps people engage and understand customers. It’s truly the best of both worlds for our customers,” Benioff told Bloomberg.

“Our engineers can’t wait to pop the hood and check out what things we might use on behalf of our customers. I think there’s going to be a lot of attractiveness on the marketing and sales side,” Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky who is expected to stay on with the business once the deal goes through told CNBC.

“I think it’s going to be magic if we can bring those two together,” Selipsky added.

Market analysts on Wall Street and business users on both platforms are very excited by the news.

Naturally, the next few months will bring exciting new features and capabilities to both applications — although the buying company might reap significantly large dividends as a result of the latter’s data analysis and visualization capabilities.

What businesses should take away from the US$15b deal

Before data disappears into AI solutions, data analysis and visualization will be king.

A lot more companies are expected to invest in data platforms in the coming months as businesses across industries attempt to trace their organization’s data flow, audit their data trails, and direct it to applications that can help leaders and managers make sense of it all.

Without such data platforms and applications built in, companies won’t really be able to harness AI solutions because algorithms need to be trained on historical data before they can be deployed.

According to IDC, worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics solutions are forecast to reach US$189.1 billion this year, an increase of 12 percent over 2018.

In fact, the think tank’s analysts expect revenues from data and analytics solutions to maintain their pace of growth throughout the 2018-2022 forecast period with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2 percent and hit US$274.3 billion by 2022.

The deal between Salesforce and Tableau, therefore, should serve as a wakeup call for businesses that aren’t focused on harnessing data — through platforms that help crunch data, analyze information, and visualize insights.

Businesses leaders must focus on moving data from spreadsheets to platforms, and they must do it now.