SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft deepened its relationship with longtime cloud rival Salesforce on Wednesday, building on a previous partnership by adding new ways for customers to use the two companies’ key products together.
The companies already began integrating Microsoft’s productivity applications — like Office — with Salesforce’s customer relationship management, or CRM, applications last year. This announcement takes thing further, as Salesforce’s platform will soon also play nice with Microsoft’s Skype for Business, Delve, OneNote and Windows 10.
The idea is that the two companies share common business customers who rely on Microsoft for productivity apps, and Salesforce for CRM. By bringing the two platforms together, everyone ends up with happier users.
“Our collaboration has been so successful, now we’re doubling down and delivering even more innovation that will help our mutual customers be more productive and connect with their customers in a whole new way,” Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff said in a press release.
The news comes as Nadella prepares to deliver a keynote address at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference this evening in San Francisco. The fact that Nadella is there at all comes as yet another sign of just how much the company’s relationship with Salesforce has changed during the Nadella era.
Microsoft and Salesforce had long been bitter and public rivals, and they still offer competing CRM products.
But they began working together when the two CEOs came together to sign a long-term partnership to integrate their key products in May 2014. Then earlier this year the pair reportedly held talks about a possible acquisition, as Microsoft was reportedly willing to spend $55 billion to buy Salesforce. The negotiations were never officially confirmed, but it has been widely reported that the two companies couldn’t reach a deal because Benioff was looking for upwards of $70 billion before he would sign on the dotted line.
Those rumors have since subsided, but the friendly vibes are clearly still around.
It’s all part of a broader strategy by Microsoft, built on the belief that there’s money to be made by working with competitors, as long as it puts Microsoft’s key products in front of more users.
Nadella told investors during the company’s most recent quarterly earnings call that he’s excited about the customer relationship management, or CRM, industry, even though that hasn’t been the biggest area of focus for Microsoft in the past. He added that the company’s Dynamics CRM, which competes directly with Salesforce’s offerings, grew its user base by 140 percent year-over-year in Q4, and the space still has “massive opportunity for reinvention.”
But Nadella also talked about a vision for the future of the CRM industry that extends beyond Microsoft’s own services. He said communication and collaboration tools are becoming more important for any business trying to manage customers. Microsoft wants to make sure it’s providing those for tools — even to those who chose not to use Microsoft’s own CRM software.
“Quite frankly, I also want to open up our communication and collaborations for other CRM vendors,” Nadella said during the July earnings call.
From the Microsoft and Salesforce news release, here are the specifics on the new integrations.
- Skype for Business Integration with Salesforce Lightning Experience: Salesforce will integrate Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync) into its new Lightning Experience, a modern and re-imagined Salesforce that combines an intelligent new user experience with proven best practices that enable people to work faster and smarter. Office 365 customers will be able to use Skype for Business to create Web meetings, determine if colleagues are online or not, click to chat and make voice and video calls from the Salesforce Lightning Experience. A preview is anticipated in the second half of 2016.
- OneNote Integration with Salesforce Lightning Experience: Users will be able to associate notes with Salesforce records, and view and edit notes directly in OneNote from the Salesforce Lightning Experience. A preview is anticipated in the second half of 2016.
- Salesforce Integration with Office Graph and Office Delve: Enabled by the Office Graph, an open ecosystem for sharing, collaboration and discovery, Office 365 users will be able to view and discover Salesforce content in Office Delve, such as sales opportunities, customer accounts and service cases. Availability is anticipated in the second half of 2016.
- Salesforce1 Mobile App for Windows 10: Salesforce will deliver a Windows 10 app to empower sales teams to move deals forward while on the go, using their