Microsoft continues its push to increase the functionality of Office 365 with the announcement of a partnership with Nimble which brings customer relationship management (CRM) to the productivity suite. The news coincided with Microsoft's report that Office 365 home subscriptions have hit the 2 million mark. 

Building Out Office 365

At first glance these two items of news might appear unrelated. But the Nimble integration adds yet more functionality to Office 365, which Microsoft aims to make the top cloud productivity suite on the market, as it has already done with the on-premises version.

The challenge here is the availability of quite a number of other agile, flexible and inexpensive alternatives like Google Apps, or Zoho, as well as other smaller, free apps if your needs are limited.

Microsoft, needless to say, has been more than well aware of this and has been adding functionality at a terrific rate to attract as many paying customers as it can. It has also adjusted its price plans to suit every pocket and recently started offering Office 365 free to students in schools with existing staff subscriptions.

Office 365 and Nimble

But the functionality is attracting the most attention at the moment. A quick look over the past few months alone shows new search abilities, new apps for mobile access, bigger and better storage, better document management abilities, as well as integrations with numerous vendors and products.

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Office 365 integration with Nimble 

In this case, the addition of social CRM abilities will enable users to take actionable customer information from emails. According to a blog post by Eric Quanstrom, Nimble’s Chief Marketing Officer, Office 365 users can view their Nimble contacts without having to leave Office 365 and take action on the contact information to build better relationships.

The objective, Quanstrom says, is to make work easier by providing all the information users need to develop business relationships. It’s a small thing, but one that removes the need for irritating app jumping out of work processes. Some of the functionality includes:

  • Ability to view full profile of contact without changing screens
  • See the last time the person was contacted
  • Monitoring all social streams, and posting to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus.

There is a lot more too, all with the ultimate goal of improving workflow and productivity from Office 365 and Outlook 2013.

Office 365 Subscriptions

The result of all these improvement has been huge growth in the number of people signing up to Office 365. At the end of last week, Microsoft's Q1 figures identified Office 365 as one of the notable financial performers in the Microsoft fold, with 2 million subscriptions for the home-packages alone. This is up from the 1 million mark, which it announced in May, and which took only 3.5 months to achieve.

While this is still only a small percentage of the total Office packages sold to individuals and enterprises combined, it supports the direction Microsoft wants to take its customers -- to the cloud.

With more functionality undoubtedly on the way, this trend will likely continue into the future. More on this as it happens.