Microsoft to Link Office 365, Skype to Salesforce Lightning Experience

At Dreamforce, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Chairman John Thompson discussed how their company's productivity apps will dovetail with Salesforce's cloud strategy and CRM products.

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SAN FRANCISCO–Microsoft continues to make alliances with enterprise software rivals, the latest being an announcement that its Office productivity apps and services will integrate with Salesforce's CRM platform.

Since taking over as Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella has made Office 365 apps available to Apple iPad and iPhone users as well as Android device users.

The integration will include Microsoft's Skype for Business, OneNote, Delve and Windows 10. The news builds on last year's announcement of a strategic partnership between the two software giants that resulted in the recent availability of two products—the Salesforce App for Outlook and the Salesforce1 Mobile App for Microsoft Office.

"We have lots of computing power. It's everywhere. It's ubiquitous. We have lots of data. But really what's scarce is the ability to gain insights," Nadella said via a video presentation during Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's keynote presentation. "The partnership we have with Salesforce really brings together great things for our mutual customers."

Among the planned new products, Salesforce will integrate Skype for Business into its new Lightning Experience CRM platform. As a result of the integration, Microsoft said 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.

However, the new service isn't yet available. In fact, even a preview version isn't expected until the second half of 2016.

Similar release timing is expected for the OneNote integration with Salesforce Lightning Experience that promises to let users associate notes with Salesforce records enabling them to view and edit notes directly in OneNote from the Salesforce Lightning Experience.

Benioff said Salesforce's partnership with Microsoft "has been just beyond our expectations. We've deeply integrated all of our products. We've unified in ways we've never experienced before," he said.

Later Benioff was joined on stage by Microsoft Chairman John Thompson, who spoke about the partnership and its potential applications with the rise of the Internet of things (IoT).

"One of the amazing things that happened over the years is that with each inflection point in the industry more and more users and more and more services are available," said Thompson. "As we make this transition to an IoT-based cloud, once again, more and more data and the opportunity for more and more services will become available."

As an example of one future scenario, Thompson described how a salesperson would be able to look at a Windows phone and see not only the appointments scheduled for that day, but the latest news about the customers the salesperson is going to interact with as well as sales situations and opportunities that the system is able to identify using analytics automatically applied across the user's calendar and other apps.

"The real opportunity ahead is to change the lives of people everywhere," said Thompson. "That's because we will make the ubiquity of computing available to everyone through mobile devices and cloud-based services. That will change the wealth of this planet and change the opportunity of everyone to participate in this great future."

Speaking of potential and the future, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins spoke later in very optimistic terms about IoT. He estimated that "95 percent of companies in the world say they'll have an IoT project by 2017."

Advances in connectivity and mobility around the world are going to enable Cisco and others to tackle many of the world's biggest problems, he added.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...