Salesforce announced today that it has signed an agreement to buy data analytics and business intelligence firm Tableau, in a deal worth $15.7 billion. That makes the deal worth more than twice the company's previous largest deal to date (its 2016 acquisition of integration tool MuleSoft for $6.5 billion). Salesforce says that both Tableau's and its own boards have already approved the deal.

According to Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, "Tableau helps people see and understand data, and Salesforce helps people engage and understand customers." Co-CEO Keith Block adds that the move benefits customers "by enabling a truly unified and powerful view across all of a customer's data."

In addition, Salesforce announced that it will keep Tableau's Seattle home base, which will become Salesforce's second headquarters. Tableau has more than 86,000 business customers, many of whom already use Salesforce, and the move to combine the two companies seems to solidify Salesforce's position as a complete customer relationship and experience platform, more than expand its reach into new markets. 

Why it matters

On the heels of Google's announcement last week that it was  purchasing the startup Looker for $2.6 billion, Salesforce's deal further shows that big tech is extremely interested in getting in on not only helping businesses generate data but also in making sense of it in ways that help them take action.

Salesforce already offers a suite of tools geared to help businesses better understand their customers, and the addition of Tableau gives it the biggest player in the analytics and visualization space. 

Businesses generate huge amounts of data about their customers, and most of it ends up in cloud-located databases hosted through services like Amazon Web Services. Services like Tableau and Looker are designed to pull out trends and key indicators that you can use to make better decisions about your business. 

If you're a Salesforce customer, which thousands of you are, this deal is significant because it provides a powerful way to make sense of the vast amounts of data you generate about your customers through existing tools like Pardot marketing automation, Sales Cloud, and Service Cloud. 

Even if you aren't a Salesforce customer, these recent deals show that both Google and Salesforce are making a serious play for your data. Google is a relatively new entrant in this arena, but Salesforce has long been one of the biggest players, especially in sales management tools. Clearly, Salesforce isn't interested in letting anyone else encroach on its position with its enterprise customers. 

It's also significant to consider that this deal takes the industry's leading independent visualization tool and makes it a part of the Salesforce ecosystem. It's not immediately clear how this deal affects businesses that currently use other database tools. I asked Salesforce what this deal means for those customers and will update this article if I get a response.