When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced an unprecedented strategic partnership between their companies 15 months ago, the relationship between the two men seemed only press release cozy. 

Nadella tweeted “Excited about partnering with @Salesforce to enable a mobile-first, cloud first world” with a link to the corporate newsroom. Three minutes later Benioff used his 140 characters to say exactly the same thing “Excited to announce our new strategic relationship with Microsoft and CEO Satya Nadella today.” 

Eight months earlier Benioff had called Microsoft “a disaster,” adding that it was a mess only Bill Gates could repair. What Gates would need to do, Benioff said, was to “push the reset button” and forget the idea that Windows should be everywhere.

That Was Then ...

Yesterday at Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual user conference in San Francisco, he sang a different tune.

He even gave Nadella a full hour to talk about Microsoft’s vision and forthcoming products. 

Its format had been sold as an interview with Wired’s Jessi Hempel, but much of it played like an infomercial complete with demos— only instead of television, Nadella addressed an audience of more than 150 thousand of Salesforce’s customers, live and in person.

Nadella recited Microsoft’s mission to empower “every individual and every organization to achieve more” —more than once, claiming that Microsoft, with its pervasive productivity apps (think Office) is in a unique position to do that.

It’s a notion that Benioff seems to have embraced, especially if actions speak louder than words. 

Since last October, Salesforce has delivered a Salesforce App for Outlook, which works with Outlook 2013 and Office 365, and Salesforce1 Mobile App for Microsoft Office. Those are but drops in the bucket when you consider what’s to come.

Cortana for Analytics

In Nadella’s presentation yesterday, he demonstrated how Cortana, Microsoft’s version of Siri, could deliver analytics from Salesforce’s Sales Cloud. 

In a not so smooth live demo, he asked Cortana to “Show me my most at risk opportunities.” Though Cortana misunderstood Nadella’s words at first (she thought he said “show me to buy milk at an opportunity”), she later delivered an answer.  

Windows users will also, eventually, be able to use Cortana Analytics for forecasts. (Or buy milk.)

Microsoft and Salesforce are also working on Skype and Office 365 integrations. More specifically, the companies explained in a statement, they plan to deliver:

  1. Skype for Business Integration with Salesforce Lightning Experience: Salesforce will integrate Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync) into its new Lightning Experience, a modern and re-imagined Salesforce that combines an intelligent new user experience with proven best practices that enable people to work faster and smarter. 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. A preview is anticipated in the second half of 2016.
  2. Salesforce Integration with Office Graph and Office Delve: Enabled by the Office Graph, an open ecosystem for sharing, collaboration and discovery, Office 365 users will be able to view and discover Salesforce content in Office Delve, such as sales opportunities, customer accounts and service cases. Availability is anticipated in the second half of 2016.
  3. Salesforce1 Mobile App for Windows 10: Salesforce will deliver a Windows 10 app to empower sales teams to move deals forward while on the go, using their favorite Windows device. Availability is anticipated in the second half of 2016.

Yesterday, in his keynote address, Benioff declared that there was “a customer revolution” in play, which means that tech companies must put their differences aside make life easy for their customers. 

Microsoft and Salesforce seem to be doing exactly that.

Commenting on yesterday’s announcements, Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller told CMSWire that “these good moves by both tech giants. They’re what customers (and influencers) want to see – value creation for businesses by increased productivity. More of that, please.”

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