A Salesforce-Microsoft Future Unveiled at Dreamforce 2014
Just a few months after announcing a new strategic partnership, Salesforce.com and Microsoft have unveiled plans to integrate their CRM and business intelligence (BI) offerings to help sales professionals boost productivity. Revealed on Monday during Salesforce's Dreamforce 2014 conference in San Francisco, the joint solutions include Salesforce1 for Windows, Salesforce for Office, and Salesforce integrations for Excel and Power BI for Office 365.
The new integrated offerings, most of them set to become available in 2015, are aimed at helping sales reps "do more from the cloud with their mobile devices," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. We're talking here about software and services for customer relationship management (CRM), salesforce automation, analytics, and related productivity apps. Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff described the coming solutions as "the first milestones" of the Salesforce-Microsoft partnership.
The two former rivals announced their strategic partnership in late May. While details of the arrangement were not disclosed at the time, Nadella said the two companies would be working to better connect Salesforce's customer insights to Microsoft's Office 365 cloud apps and Windows mobile apps, as well to Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.
Bringing Salesforce to Windows Mobile
Set to become generally available in the second half of 2015, Salesforce1 for Windows is designed to help sales professionals manage their business tasks from their Windows 8.1 mobile devices.
The mobile app is currently being offered through an invite-only preview. Salesforce1 is already available through Internet Explorer on Windows 8.1 desktop and laptop devices.
Also available now is Salesforce Files, which is designed to let sales reps unlock files from Microsoft SharePoint for mobile and social use. Salesforce Files is one of several new integrations bringing Salesforce and Windows' Office closer together.
Cloud, social and mobile technologies are helping companies in every industry to redefine business models, according to Eric Berridge, CEO and founder of the cloud-focused consulting firm Bluewolf. These developments are driving the rapid growth in CRM apps such as Salesforce's, he said in the introduction to Bluewolf's "The State of Salesforce Annual Review 2014-2015."
"Companies must continually exceed rising customer expectations -- and increasingly those expectations include high-quality digital experiences that are smart, relevant and frictionless," Berridge wrote. "When viewed through this lens, all initiatives become customer facing. This is the root cause of CRM's rapid growth...."
Managing Content from Outlook
Salesforce1 will also integrate Salesforce's applications with Microsoft Office, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. That will enable users to seamlessly open, edit and save documents via either Android phones or iOS devices.
Also in the works is a new Salesforce1 app for Outlook, which will let users access and manage their Salesforce content directly from Outlook. It will work with Microsoft Outlook 2013, Exchange Server 2013 and Office 365.
Both Salesforce1 apps are scheduled to be released during the first half of 2015.
Salesforce also plans to integrate its offerings with Windows Excel and Power BI for Office 365. The joint solutions are aimed at helping users "bi-directionally load data to Salesforce and Excel to build reports, visualize information and discover new insights."
Now available as a preview, Salesforce integration with Power Query for Excel is expected to be generally available in the first half of 2015, as is the Salesforce-Power BI integration. A new Salesforce app for Excel is expected for release during the second half of 2015.
The Dreamforce conference runs through Thursday, Oct. 16.
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