Salesforce Tower under construction in downtown San Francisco
With its Salesforce Tower now open to tenants in San Francisco, the CRM giant followed with the announcement of a deepening partnership with IBM PHOTO: David Alacaraz

One of the biggest news items in the digital workplace this week was the announcement of IBM and Salesforce's deepening partnership, with new integrations between IBM Cloud, Watson Services, Salesforce Quip and Service Cloud Einstein.

The two companies announced their initial partnership last March. It envisaged a combination of Armonk, New York-based IBM Watson's capabilities with San Francisco-based Salesforce's CRM data to allow businesses to glean insights across structured and unstructured data.

As part of this announcement, Salesforce named IBM a preferred cloud services provider, making IBM the third major provider to be named "preferred." The company first named AWS its preferred cloud provider in May 2016. At its Dreamforce conference last November, Salesforce announced Google was also a preferred cloud provider.

But for those following the digital workplace, the Quip announcement is the news to watch. Quip's productivity platform combines communications and content to support collaboration within documents or spreadsheets on any device. The productivity start-up had an impeccable pedigree — co-founded by a former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor and his friend Kevin Gibbs, who was instrumental in creating Google App Engine and Google Suggest — and offered desktop and mobile apps that were said to run at 2.6 times the speed of Microsoft Office. Salesforce bought the company in August 2016. 

While the announcement provided few details about the long-term goals of the deepened partnership, the addition of IBM muscle will give Quip a much needed boost in a space currently dominated by Google and Microsoft, with a few challengers on the horizon, like Zoho. IBM Watson Quip Live Apps — the one announced integration — will give Quip Live Apps, first announced at Dreamforce '17, an added layer of artificial intelligence (AI) to enable third party companies to integrate with the platform.

If this sounds a lot like Office 365 and G Suite, that’s because it is, minus the years of development supporting the two suites. While this won’t turn the tables it will give Salesforce a productivity suite to sell to its already massive customer engagement market. Is that what this is all about? We’re taking a deeper look and will let you know soon.

In other digital workplace news ...

OneDrive For Business’ File Restore

What can you do when you lose a file from your file storage? The answer is usually not much. However, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft is tackling this issue with the introduction of File Restore for its business file storage and syncing service OneDrive for Business.

True to the name, the File Restore feature allows end users to bring back OneDrive for Business files "from any point in time during the last 30 days," according to the announcement from Microsoft.

OneDrive for Business is an integral part of Office 365 and SharePoint Server and provides a place in the cloud where users store, share and sync work files. Users can update and share files from any device with OneDrive for Business or can even work on Office documents with others at the same time.

With the amount of organizational activity stored on the service, losing a file can create serious problems — not just for business activity, but for compliance and security reasons as well.

Windows 10 users have already started receiving a notification in the Message Center for Office 365 regarding the timeline of File Restore's release, which begins this month. The company plans to roll out the feature to all users over the coming months.

Box's London Headquarters

Redwood City, Calif.-based Box, a cloud content management and file sharing service for businesses file sharing, continues its expansion, this time with the announcement of its new, expanded European headquarters in London.

Given Britain’s ongoing concern over Brexit — the decision by Britain to leave the European Union — the move by Box is an important one for the tech sector there as the appearance by Britain’s Secretary of State for all things digital, Matt Hancock, in the new office signals.

According to a statement from Box, the company now employs nearly 200 staff across Europe and promises further European expansion over the coming year.

WorkJam Integrates Back and Front Office

Also this week Montreal-based WorkJam released a new version of it Digital Workplace Solution. The updated features go beyond helping employees in customer-facing roles and links virtually the whole enterprise.

In a statement, the company stated the release aims to integrate on-floor workers — sales reps interacting directly with customers — with back-office operations via major enhancements in its communication, training and survey modules.

WorkJam is also overhauling the communications capabilities of Digital Workplace. Now, members at any organizational rank can communicate with employee groups, filtered by available parameters, allowing for tailor-made campaign execution and more customized training/sales initiatives.

AudioCodes Brings AI To Voice

Meanwhile, Lod, Israel-based AudioCodes, producer of advanced voice networking and media processing solutions for the digital workplace, announced its fourth quarter results this week with revenues of $157 million over $145 million in 2016. Buried in the financial result statements was the real news: the company is creating a new business unit called Voice.AI to add to its Networking Business Unit and UC-SIP (unified communications — session initiation protocol) operations.

The new unit will use existing operations in voice recognition and call logging/recording to capitalize on the endless amount of business voice interactions and resources and the growing effectiveness of AI technologies.

EMS Software With G Suite, Outlook

Finally this week, Centennial, Colo.-based EMS Software announced an integration between its workplace connectivity platform and both Microsoft Outlook and Google G Suite calendars.

The product release aims to provide businesses with seamless scheduling and management of corporate workspaces, meetings and events through the calendar integrations. EMS has been working with businesses with Microsoft Outlook integration since 2004, but the recent release is the first time G Suite was added to the mix. It's a small addition, but a helpful one.