Deanna Evers, Director of Marketing, sat down with John Szuberla, Emtec's Microsoft Practice Director, and Greg Lewis, President of Wave6, and asked them to weigh in on Microsoft and Salesforce recent formation of a partnership.
What Does the Partnership Mean?
John: "The primary focus of the partnership is on the customer, and putting the customer first. The partnership means organizations will have an opportunity to leverage some of the most innovative solutions in a more productive and integrated way than ever before. It is going to be an exciting year to watch these solution materialize in the market place. From a Microsoft perspective this partnership will provide additional licensing for Office 365 and get more Windows devices into the hands of the consumers."
Greg: "Both companies recognize the fact that technology portfolio’s are definitely a best of breed today. Microsoft has recently released office 365 for iPad, now the formalized partnership with Microsoft. All great moves on Microsoft’s part! Salesforce is recognizing the importance of the market share that Microsoft has with their Office365 offering."
How Does this Affect Salesforce & Microsoft CRM Product lines?
Greg, what does this mean for Salesforce1 platform?
Greg: "Extending Salesforce1 support for the Windows Mobile platform is an important step to support BYOD (bring your own device). The ability to integrate the Salesforce1 platform with the full Offficre365 suites is very important." In addition, there is a lot of "between the lines" items mentioned on their press call. For example, ExactTarget, the recent Salesforce acquisition, was built on Azure, SQL Server and utilized Microsoft Workflow. The potential to leverage Microsoft Workflow with Salesforce is an exciting idea. I'm also very encouraged by Mr. Bennioff's comments on evaluating Microsoft technologies for future product development opportunities."
John, what does this mean for MS Spring Wave?
John: "From a Microsoft perspective this announcement raises a lot of questions on how Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners should position Dynamics CRM going forward. Historically one of the key differentiators between Dynamics CRM and Salesforce was the Dynamics CRM advantage of having better integrations and solutions with other Microsoft applications and devices. So, this announcement clearly impacts the current competitive advantage of Microsoft Dynamics CRM's availability on windows devices and integrations with Outlook, SharePoint and Office365. In my opinion, I believe Microsoft is confident their numerous Dynamics CRM innovations being released this spring and throughout 2014 will level the playing field with Salesforce.com. Going forward I expect the two product lines to compete much more on functionality and feature sets than on technology."
Does this spell the end for Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
John: "Not a chance! Microsoft continues to pour money into R&D and acquisitions to improve Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Everyone knows they have clearly been the bridesmaid to Salesforce.com in the past, but the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product releases this year and this announcement surely point to a tighter competitive battle over the next few years.
Greg: "Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are the two leading CRM solutions on the market. There is plenty of room for both players in the space."
Current Microsoft & Salesforce Integrated Solutions Available
Interviewer Note: Per the press release, here are the planned solutions to be delivered:
- Salesforce1 for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1
- Will enable customers to access Salesforce, to run their business from their Windows devices.
- A preview is planned to be available in fall 2014 with general availability in 2015.
- Salesforce for Office 365
- New interoperability between Salesforce and Office 365 will give customers access to the content they need to collaborate, sell, service and market from virtually anywhere.
- Plans include the ability to:
- Access, share, edit and collaborate on Office content from within Salesforce and on Salesforce1 using Office Mobile, Office for iPad and Office 365.
- 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.
- Connect Salesforce data to Excel and Power BI for Office 365 to visualize information and find new insights.
What does this mean for the Future?
Are any of these connectors currently available today?
John: “The solutions and connectivity mentioned in the press release are not yet available. The Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 solutions will have a preview available in fall of this year. General availability of the Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 is expected in 2015. They announced that additional information will be provided on Salesforce for Office 365 in the coming months. Even though the official “Salesforce.com-Microsoft” solutions are not yet available, Emtec and Wave6 have been putting our customers first and implementing Salesforce.com and Microsoft integrating solutions for years. Our teams have developed solutions that integrate Salesforce.com with Microsoft SharePoint, Office, Outlook, Business Intelligence, Dynamics GP,and even Dynamics CRM. As we learn more on the exact capabilities offered by Salesforce.com and Microsoft, we will be right there along the way to help our customers as we always have done in the past.”
What does this mean for On-premises vs. Cloud implementations?
John: “This announcement is focused on cloud based technologies only. If an organization is running on-premises Microsoft solutions such as Exchange, Office, and/or SharePoint, then Emtec and Wave6 are the right partners to help implement Salesforce.com with these on-premises Microsoft technologies. If an organization has a business case that points to an on-premises customer relationship management solution, then Emtec’s Microsoft Gold CRM practice would be the right partner to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM and integrate any of the on-premises or cloud based Microsoft technologies.”
Greg: “Salesforce integration with Microsoft Outlook has been around for quite some time in addition to a variety of 3rd party products; however, we are expecting this partnership to result in a new update more robust version. The vast majority of existing Salesforce.com customers use Microsoft Office and/or Office365. Improved interoperability between these two will benefit many people.”
John, what is meant by the mention of running Salesforce.com apps on Microsoft Azure?
“Azure is Microsoft’s cloud network, which is used by many organizations to run applications as a service in the cloud. During the partnership media briefing, it was mentioned that Salesforce.com will use Azure for ExactTarget (Salesforce.com’s Marketing Cloud) development and testing. Salesforce.com will also look to use Azure in other ways. This is a big step for Microsoft as they continue to get enterprise class applications to use Azure. SAP is another organization looking to leverage Azure. By getting continued commitments it strengthens Microsoft position as a leader in the IaaS and PaaS markets.”
Can you give a real-life scenario, an example, of what a salesforce/office 365 integration might look like? I'm looking to understand how could our sales professionals could take advantage of such integration on a daily basis?
Greg: "One real life example would be the auto generation of proposals. Imaging a sales rep completing key details on a sales opportunity within Salesforce and then clicking a ‘generate proposal’ button that would initiate API calls to Office 365 to create a shell proposal in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. Another example is sharing documents related to Accounts in Salesforce with OneDrive and SharePoint online. A real life example would be a legal and contracts team working primarily within SharePoint and collaborating on customer contracts with sales reps who are working 100% within Salesforce but have the ability to synchronize documents between Salesforce and SharePoint Online."
John: “A good example would be the scenario of an organization using SharePoint for different departmental collaboration and document management needs. SharePoint is utilized by many organizations as its Intranet portal, and departments have contracts, end customer facing source documents (invoices, aging reports, statements), or project documents stored in SharePoint. Many of these departmental users may not have a need to use Salesforce, so surfacing these documents to the sales professional via a one-stop-shop interface on a customer account record would improve the productivity of the sales professional.”
How Will The Partnership Help Clients?
Greg: "I’m personally looking forward to better integration with the the products I use every day; Office 365, my iPad and Salesforce. The announcement is also very key to integrating the enterprise. I am a huge advocate of the Salesforce1 platform and expanding it throughout the enterprise. Better connectivity with Microsoft productivity applications will support that."
What does this mean to clients who are not yet users but are currently evaluating Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Saleforce1 Sales Cloud?
John: “In the short term, some organizations will not want to wait for the official solutions and these organizations still be interested in moving forward with implementing a solution. Emtec and Wave6 are the right partners to use to review your business processes from an agnostic perspective to help you identify the right technology or integrating solution. We have developed some of these solutions in the past, and we understand the business needs and processes that can be improved by combining the solutions offered by Salesforce.com and Microsoft. From a Microsoft and Dynamics CRM perspective, Microsoft already offers many of solutions that are forthcoming for Salesforce. If an organization has widespread use of Microsoft technologies and cannot wait for these solutions to materialize for Salesforce.com, and they have business needs requiring Windows and O365 integration, then they should consider Dynamics CRM.”
Greg: “My perspective is that organizations select CRM applications on a variety of factors that combine overall application IT portfolio strategies with needs of sales, marketing, customer service and that this announcement alone won’t drastically change the results of application selections. With Emtec and Wave6’s separate but integrated Salesforce and Microsoft practices, we can help organizations performed more ‘balanced’ CRM selections."
Greg, from your perspective do you think organizations have to wait a year or can they capitalize on the Microsoft/Salesforce partnership now?
“Customers can capitalize on the announcement by moving forward with Office365 upgrades, trusting Salesforce1 as a cross platform solution.”
Greg, What does this mean for Mobile applications?
“We are leveraging Salesforce1 as a mobile platform as a service today. The reality is many organizations combine a variety of technologies in the development of user specific mobile applications. This partnership opens a world of possibilities to leverage Salesforce1, Windows Mobile and other Microsoft technologies.”
What does this partnership mean to Emtec as a partner of Microsoft and Salesforce?
Greg: “Our Wave6 group focuses heavily on optimizing, expanding and integrating applications on the Salesforce1 platform. The announcement provides some exciting options for us to develop innovative solutions. For example, PowerPoint presentation generators based on Opportunity characteristics, hybrid Salesforce1 / Windows Mobile applications that combine the delivered Salesforce1 application with custom functionality for Windows devices. John other thoughts?”
John: “Outside of the CRM impact which we previously discussed, we are looking forward to future projects that will build upon the forthcoming out-of-the-box solutions. For example, our Microsoft team is looking forward to doing more projects that leverage Microsoft technologies such as PowerBI and SharePoint. This announcement helps to get these Salesforce and Microsoft dialogues going, and this will result in some fun new projects for our collective teams.”
John, in your opinion, how will this impact small to large sized organizations?
“It will be interesting to see how the licensing will be handled for the small vs. large organizations. I would expect that a small organization licensed for 5 Salesforce.com users today will be able to perform their job on their Windows phones and add an O365 subscription to get the integrating solutions of Office, SharePoint, Outlook, and Power BI. But, only time and licensing will tell.”
So…What’s next and How Can You Take Advantage of This Alliance?
Greg: "As Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce) said in his release, "Customers need and want us to work together. They want to be able to work with Office 365, Excel, Outlook and Salesforce."
- Assess Your CRM, Desktop, Mobile and Cloud Strategy – adjust accordingly
- Integrate Best of Breed Salesforce and Microsoft solutions
- Achieve Increased Productivity
- Connect with Emtec & Wave6 if you need some advice on your CRM or Microsoft / Salesforce application integration plans
- Get Excited!
Just like Microsoft and Salesforce, the combination of Wave6 and Emtec’s capabilities provide a variety of “best of breed’ and hybrid services for clients."
John: “Organizations must certainly assess their strategy and work with a partner to adopt accordingly. Just because Microsoft has some existing solutions for Dynamics CRM, and the next year will bring similar solutions for Salesforce.com does not mean these out-of-the-box solutions will align with all your organization’s business needs. The reason Emtec and Wave6 have experience in delivering integrated best of breed Salesforce and Microsoft solutions is because organizations have required a solution that cannot be met with plug and play solutions. We highly recommend engaging a partner like Emtec and Wave6 to assess your business needs and application landscape to determine the best solution. Whether your need be business process, document management, or business intelligence oriented, there are feasible solutions from Microsoft and Salesforce that can be leveraged to help your organization achieve increased productivity.”
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