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(L to R): Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe; Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft; and Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP, discuss the new Open Data Initiative on stage at Ignite 2018. (GeekWire screenshot)

Modern enterprise technology generates a ton of valuable data, but putting that data together can be quite tricky. Microsoft introduced a new industry partnership with Adobe and SAP Monday at Ignite 2018 that aims to bring customer data together into one package running on Azure.

The Open Data Initiative will link products from all three companies — Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Experience Platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP C/4HANA and S/4HANA — in ways that make it easier to exchange data between all those products, said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, on stage at Ignite. He was joined by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and SAP CEO Bill McDermott in unveiling the new partnership, which will also create a data lake within Azure for pooling that data.

“I really believe this is a seminal moment in the information technology industry,” McDermott said. “Your data is now yours.”

There’s an old saying in the enterprise software world: data has gravity. Once companies start to generate lots of data inside different applications across customer-relationship management, enterprise-resource planning, and other enterprise software packages, it can be extremely hard to move that data around and assemble it into a single resource.

The idea behind the new partnership is to convince current and prospective customers of all the products listed above that they’ll be able to interoperate with each other in order to share that data, which could unlock more value from each individual subscription. But veteran technology buyers know that it’s easy to announce partnerships and much harder to implement them; the companies did not announce a time frame for this project in a press release or on stage.

It’s also a hedge against the growing power of other enterprise software companies like Salesforce, as well as older companies like Oracle, both of which have tons of customer data within their products. And, of course, Microsoft cloud rivals Amazon Web Services and Google aren’t part of this group either, although Nadella said the trio would invite other companies to join them.

And, of course, in order to take advantage of this partnership, you’ll need to buy all the new stuff.

“Enterprises need to modernize their technology investments and operating models in order to take advantage of this connection,” said Blair Hanley Frank, a technology analyst with ISG. “That will require adopting cloud native development, understanding machine learning and transforming workforces to meet the demands of the future.”

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