When Salesforce.com (SFDC) announced its intention to acquire Jigsaw on April 21, 2010, it marked its entrance into the data services market. Jigsaw’s SaaS-based, crowdsourcing model of company/contact data collection and validation appears to be a logical extension of SFDC’s cloud computing infrastructure. What is unclear is if SFDC really wants to compete with the D&Bs, Hoovers and ZoomInfo’s of the world for this market or if this, like their other acquisitions, becomes the technology foundation for their next cloud-based application. Just as Korel turned into SFDC content and Groupswim became Chatter, does Jigsaw become SFDC Contact at some point in the future attempting to leverage the millions of contacts currently stored in SFDC by their multitude of clients? I struggle to believe that the SFDC sales force is going to make plan by selling Jigsaw as an add-on into their client base as they attempted with SFDC Content before making it free. Or that they will direct/distract their sales force into the complex marketing data buying centers where vendors like Harte-Hanks and Acxiom make a living.

Does this also ignite the dreams of all those App-Exchange vendors that they may be next? Does this signal SFDC’s intention to get serious about marketing automation? At DreamForce last November, many thought the “mystery cloud” that later revealed itself to be Chatter was going to be the announcement of an acquisition in the marketing automation platform (MAP) space, as had been rumored. SFDC’s marketing capabilities are notoriously lacking when compared to the functionality we see with marketing automation platforms like Eloqua, Marketo and Manticore Technology. Combining the data services capabilities of Jigsaw with an established marketing automation platform vendor would give their sales force a powerful 1-2 punch to sell add-on seats into marketing, leveraging their SFA infrastructure and growing their contact value.

The increasing volume of announced and soon-to-be-announced vendor acquisitions/mergers in the sales and marketing automation markets suggest that in anticipation of the next growth cycle, the vendor community is quickly adapting to user demand for value-added applications that drive performance and sales productivity, and that these are the requirements that will rise to the forefront of funded initiatives. With more than 88 percent of organizations having already deployed core sales force accounting (SFA) applications, it seems only logical that the next wave of user investment will be directed toward sales and marketing 2.0 applications — those that focus on selling, not just measuring sales.

For SFDC users this can only be viewed as good news. Jigsaw, like Content and Chatter, represents the first truly new functionality we’ve seen from SFDC, enabling it to move beyond being a sales force accounting tool and becoming the integrated sales and marketing suite that users are building for themselves today.