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Experts: Salesforce Evergage acquisition for personalization, not CDP

Salesforce acquires Evergage, which offers personalization and a customer data platform. Analysts say Salesforce bought the tech for the personalization -- not to add to its CDP.

Salesforce has acquired Evergage, a privately held enterprise cloud personalization and customer data platform vendor based in Somerville, Mass., for an undisclosed sum that analysts estimate is likely more than $100 million.

The CRM giant is working on Customer 360 Audiences, a feature set that resembles a customer data platform (CDP) now in pilot and slated for release this summer. But the Salesforce Evergage acquisition does not signal that Salesforce has run into CDP development snags, according to CDP Institute founder David Raab, who was briefed by Salesforce about the deal.

Rather, Salesforce bought Evergage for its personalization engine, which predicts marketing offers based on customer history and behavioral data with AI.

"They were pretty clear that this is quite separate from their CDP project," Raab said, adding that Salesforce B2C customers will benefit the most. "The reality is that Evergage is technically a CDP, but their strength is in personalization."

Marketing Cloud to benefit

Late last summer, Evergage launched Data Warehouse, a set of BI features that give data scientists and marketers a better handle on customer data analysis from CRM, point-of-sale and marketing automation in order to create segments for future campaigns.

They were pretty clear that this is quite separate from their CDP project. The reality is that Evergage is technically a CDP, but their strength is in personalization.
David RaabFounder, CDP Institute

The Salesforce Evergage acquisition was announced yesterday on Evergage's blog by CEO Karl Wirth. According to Wirth, Evergage's capabilities for personalizing offers across web, email, mobile, adtech, social, call-center, in-store and bank branches will complement Salesforce's Marketing Cloud.

Evergage fills a gap in the Salesforce marketing offering, Constellation Research analyst R "Ray" Wang said. While Salesforce's Einstein AI and emerging CDP forms the backbone of customer data handling, Salesforce needed stronger personalization capabilities to orchestrate the customer journey from discovery to offer.

"We're in a world of AI personalization, which really requires companies to think about how the data, journeys and recommendations all come together," Wang said. "A lot of those parts are missing [with many cloud platforms]. You can say you do personalization, but it doesn't necessarily help you when you don't string together a journey. I think we're going to see companies like Salesforce build out AI and personalization over time."

Salesforce acquisitions timeline
The Salesforce Evergage acquisition joins a long list of recent tech companies added to the customer experience platform.

Integration timeline unclear

In the short term, Salesforce intends to keep Evergage a separate application and connect it to the Salesforce platform via APIs. The company did not provide a timeline for integrating its personalization engine features natively into the platform, Raab said. He suggested that Salesforce might need to evolve its overall Customer 360 platform before it's ready for full integration.

"It's possible that the Evergage database will eventually be replaced by direct access to the Customer 360 Audiences data, but that requires very high-speed processing, which Customer 360 Audiences might not support in its early iterations," Raab said.

It's also possible that Evergage's campaign engine will eventually be replaced by a central orchestration system in Salesforce Marketing Cloud or provide the base for one the company eventually will build, Raab said. That would require real-time processing not available in existing Salesforce products, which might indicate why Salesforce chose to connect Evergage for now and save the fuller integration for later, he concluded.

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