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Microsoft and Salesforce Get Friendly in the Cloud

Microsoft and Salesforce Get Friendly in the Cloud
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Before Sayta Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO, took over, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff was outspoken about what a disaster Microsoft was and how former CEO Bill Gates needed to come back to push reset. Apparently Nadella has done exactly that and Benioff couldn't be more pleased, which is partially why Salesforce cut the deal with Microsoft.
 


It’s an alliance that may mark a new era under a new CEO. Microsoft and Salesforce.com on Thursday announced a strategic partnership that will see the two tech giants collaborate on solutions to connect Salesforce's customer relationship management (CRM) apps and platform to Microsoft Office and Windows.

“We both view our mission as helping customers succeed in today's new world, a world of the cloud, a world of social computing, of mobile computing, of connectivity,” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said in a media briefing. “And this announcement is really about putting our customers first.”

Nadella Offers Nuts and Bolts

The companies plan to deliver two new solutions: Salesforce1 for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1, and, Salesforce for Office 365. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“First, we will empower people to use Office 365 and Salesforce seamlessly together, whether it's sharing Office documents in Salesforce1 or analyzing CRM data in Power BI for Office 365. Second, we are bringing the leading CRM application to Windows devices, both phones and PCs,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

“Third, Microsoft has renewed our commitment to using ExactTarget Marketing Cloud for one-to-one digital marketing efforts. And Marc will talk more about Salesforce's commitment to use Microsoft database and cloud technologies with ExactTarget,” he said.

Salesforce1 for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 will let customers access Salesforce and run their businesses from their Windows devices. A preview is expected to be available in fall 2014, with general availability following in 2015.

Customers Want This

According to Microsoft, new interoperability between Salesforce and Office 365 will give customers access to the content they need to collaborate, sell, service and market from just about anywhere. For example, customers will be able to access, share, edit and collaborate on Office content from within Salesforce and on Salesforce1 using Office Mobile, Office for iPad and Office 365.

Customers can also use OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online as integrated storage options for Salesforce; use Salesforce and Outlook together with a new Salesforce App for Outlook; and connect Salesforce data to Excel and Power BI for Office 365 to visualize information and find new insights.

“Customers need and they want us to work together. They want this partnership. They want this partnership badly,” said Benioff. “They want to be able to work with Office 365, they want to be able to work with Excel, with Outlook, they want to work with all of Microsoft's apps, and they want to be able to work with Salesforce. And they want us to work together for our customers' benefit.”

Expect More Partnerships

We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst The Enderle Group, to get this take on the topic. He told us before Nadella took over, Benioff was outspoken about what a disaster Microsoft was and how Gates needed to come back to push reset.

“Apparently Nadella has done exactly that and Benioff couldn't be more pleased, which is partially why he cut the deal with them. Microsoft is really looking like a very different company now and I'm hearing from partners that they are engaging like they did in the old days,” Enderle said. “I expect we'll see a number of unexpected partnerships in the coming months, as a result. This Salesforce move is likely a strong indicator of both Microsoft's change under Nadella and what is to come.”
 

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