The News: Microsoft Corp. is teaming with Adobe Inc. and C3.ai, the company of customer-software pioneer Tom Siebel, in another bid to better compete with Salesforce.com Inc., the market leader for such programs. Read the full news story on Bloomberg.
Analyst Take: We see much momentum in using larger data sets, machine learning, and AI in CRM. We are also seeing this extend into the growing Customer Data Platform (CDP) category, which both Adobe and Microsoft take part in. All in all, we are in a race to offer more solutions and better leverage the enormous customer data volumes both within our systems and across the web to enable companies better solutions that can be implemented more quickly and derive value in a shorter period of time.
Today’s announcement from C3.ai, Microsoft, and Adobe mark another strategic partnership of companies that do offer some overlap but largely work better together, with the intent of enabling enterprises to meet customers where they are more effective. In this case, what caught my attention most acutely is the vertical focus and the pre-built algorithms that take advantage of a larger subset of data with a specific lean on a particular industry’s needs such as financial services, healthcare, or manufacturing.
As I see it, the three companies involved saw this as a clear opportunity to compete with the work that Salesforce is doing pairing its SaaS with Mulesoft and Tableau to deliver more capable solutions across verticals customers. Of course, others are competing in this space, but the way I see it, this really is C3.ai, Adobe, and Microsoft working to leapfrog Salesforce on capabilities and effective AI use.
I think having three companies with this level of credibility bodes well for the solution. It will be important that the companies truly work together to build and execute on the potential. This will also serve Microsoft’s Azure business well as it should deliver more workloads on Azure–This isn’t a key consideration in developing this partnership, but a strong benefit of many of these partnerships given Microsoft’s vast offering and full-stack cloud offering including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
Overall Impression of C3.ai, Adobe, and Microsoft Partnership and the Impact on CRM
Overall, I feel we have reached a pivotal moment for the future of CRM. The space is getting more competitive, and I believe this partnership will serve all three companies well to compete with Salesforce, which is by far the most advanced in SaaS and AI to deliver turnkey solutions to customers. Furthermore, I believe that generating insights at the intersection of enterprise and extraprise data is the next business imperative for growth. Based on current market adoption and sentiment, it is hard to think of a better partnership for Siebel and C3.ai when it comes to delivering on this next wave of CRM capabilities. The combined power and experience of C3.ai, Microsoft, and Adobe has the potential to meet a critical enterprise need at a moment where the CRM market currently lacks an industry-focused solution that capitalizes on the boundless potential of cloud, data, and AI.