Microsoft (MSFT) and Salesforce (CRM) couldn’t negotiate a merger earlier this year, but their 18-month-old engineering relationship is getting cozier.
The two companies have already delivered on several projects that create close ties between the various Salesforce cloud services and Microsoft’s market-leading Office suite. They now have four more collaborations up their sleeves, including technology that embeds Skype conferencing and communications features right into the Salesforce user interface.
Why you care: a sales representative can now call a prospect from within the Salesforce system and dive into a pitch without having to launch an entirely separate application.
“We are doubling down for the next phase,” said Fergus Griffin, senior vice president of products and solutions marketing for Salesforce.
Several other things that customers can expect: ties between the Salesforce system and Microsoft’s digital note-taking app; support for Salesforce data in Office Graph and Office Delve analytics results; and a Salesforce1 app for Windows 10. All of these technologies should emerge in the second half of 2016, according to senior Microsoft and Salesforce executives. That seems like a long time away, but most businesses appreciate that sort of notice.
“The more lead time, the better,” Griffin said.
The relationship between the two companies reaches deeper than sharing development plans, although they haven’t gone so far as to swap source code. Griffin and his Microsoft counterpart, John Case, corporate vice president of Office and Office 365, said corporate sales teams for both companies are instructed to talk up their tight ties as a differentiator. Two of the most integrations are now available in the form of Salesforce apps for Outlook and Office.
That’s making a difference in accounts like consumer products company Unilever.
“As a global company with more than 400 brands, we are always looking for ways to strengthen collaboration across departments and take the complexity out of work,” said Paulo de Sa, vice president of employee services technology, in a statement.
You can expect Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to perpetuate the mutual admiration when he takes the stage Wednesday afternoon during the cloud software giant’s huge customer and partner conference Dreamforce. Nadella’s appearance in San Francisco is an unprecedented show of support, when you consider the two companies barely used to speak.
After all, Salesforce blazed the trail for customer relationship management software when it launched in 1999. Its then-novel subscription service took off like a rocket. Stung by that success, Microsoft entered the CRM market more than a decade ago with its own product. Interactions between the companies were often testy as a result.
But the chilly relationship changed in May 2014, when the two disclosed a broad strategic relationship.
Rumors of a potential merger galvanized the market last spring. The talks reportedly fizzled after the two failed to agree on a purchase price.
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