Understanding the Microsoft and Salesforce partnership – why and what now?

I was on holiday and then I came back to see twitter fizzing with confusion and disbelief about the Microsoft and Sales force partnership.  The fact it arrived with everyone still talking about social listening did provoke some amusing twitter comments

I’m still trying to digest the news, what are the reasons behind it and more importantly how does this change the landscape for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  To me this highlights one the major reasons why working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM is interesting.  The amount of change in terms of new functionality, new releases, completely new functionality


I have gathered together some of the more interesting analysis of the partnership and I will summarize those articles and pop in a few of my own views.  Why I don’t think I can really provide much insight on the whole situation, it’s more a case of me thinking out loud to see if it sounds any better.  Hopefully this may provoke some comments from people more knowledgeable than myself

It reminds me a bit feels a bit like the autosave, I’m not sure why Microsoft have done it but what we have to focus on now is

understanding how the partnership is going to work and the ramifications of it

what should you tell potential customers

When will it start

make sure all your CRM team members know about it.


Lets start at the beginning and the announcement, it’s rather terse so there isn’t much to read but it is rather significant


I’m sure you have read the key points in many analysis but what it basically means is Salesforce will work with all the Microsoft goodies,


Excel and Power BI

Office 365

windows, windows phone

Outlook (including a new app on the way)


Hosk Comment

It seems like a fantastic move for Salesforce they nullify one of the major competitive advantages Microsoft Dynamics CRM had over Salesforce.  I have been on a few sales pitches and demo’s and always one of the major selling points was Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration with Microsoft Office, Outlook, Active directory and the other Microsoft stack offerings.

The partnership from a CRM perspective doesn’t seem to make any sense which is why it has been met with confusion, disappointment and a bit of anger by the Microsoft Dynamics CRM community.   The big picture I guess is Microsoft are moving to try and ensure the future of Windows and Office, which in comparison CRM is a small fry.   Microsoft have enjoyed the monopoly of business computing but things are changing, with things moving into the cloud there are realistic options for companies not to install windows/office and outlook.   I think the move with Salesforce is try and get more using and buying the Microsoft products, it seems a bit drastic but I think Microsoft have to act now.


The next article to go to is probably an update from (big Microsoft Dynamics CRM Cheese – just in case you didn’t know)


The statement from Kirill seems a bit confused to me.  The initial part of the statement he focuses on working with Salesforce and then next paragraph he says Microsoft Dynamics CRM is still competing with them.  I know this is the message from above but it still doesn’t seem to explain the motivation of the parternship

The article doesn’t really clear anything up but I think we have to read it.



Leon Tribe Nibbles at the news

So now we are onto the analysis, I will start with CRM MVP Leon Tribes analysis.  Leon works for a company which sell Salesforce as well as Microsoft Dynamics CRM so he is in a good position to give some insight, he also specialises in keeping the Dynamics community up to date on the Salesforce financial status.


I think the title of Leon’s article gives fantastic insight into the motivation of the parternship.  Mircrosoft has been seen it’s windows operating system nibbled away by Apple, Tablets and Online offerings.

Leon thinks the the partnership will allow Microsoft to boost the sales of their tablets with the new Surface tablet and now the option to sell it to Salesforce customers as well.

Leon also mentions OneDrive, I admit I hadn’t really thought about this but once again Microsoft were late out of the traps (like the windows phone) and really need to just get as many people using OneDrive as possible.

This quote I found very interesting

 To survive, Microsoft partners will either broaden their offering to include Salesforce, focus more on consulting services than direct sales or become more customer-focussed and provide value to clients beyond the product.


Hosk Comment

Leon’s analysis is as usual excellent and it doesn’t make great reading from a Microsoft Dynamics CRM perspective and it will certainly mean it will be a harder sell for Microsoft Dynamic CRM partners when competing against Salesforce.

I’m not sure about the new Surface, it seems too expensive for people to buy for home use. I’m not sure people really want to do work on their tablet and I am yet to see companies really start buying tablets for the workforce but I can’t deny that tablets are appearing more and more in the workplace.


Salesforce and Microsoft perspectives

This article I found interesting because of the way it split up the analysis into a salesforce and microsoft perspective.


not surprisingly its all pretty good news for Salesforce users and the article predicts a date when we will see the integration happen

When Will All of This Be Available?  Well, it looks like there is a planned beta release in the fall and a full release in 2015.  As these things go, I would expect several iterations before everything is fully released and integrated.  So, Salesforce.com users, you probably have 12 to 24 months to go until you are totally integrated with Outlook, Office 365, Windows Phone, Windows 8.1, OneDrive and Excel.  Hang in there! – See more at: http://blogs.c5insight.com/Home/entryid/461/The-Salesforce-com-and-Microsoft-global-partnership-what-it-means-for-CRM-customers#sthash.6GlpjYgG.dpuf


The article doesn’t offer a great deal on the impact of the partnership but it does give a very candid evaluation of Microsoft CRM compared to Salesforce and makes some very interesting points comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the two systems. The last point it makes focuses on the mobile/tablet and cloud focus of Microsoft and the fact it needs to make some head way after starting slowly.

Microsoft is acknowledging that they have not established themselves in the mobile, tablet or cloud markets as they had hoped.  Although Microsoft has made heavy investments in all three of these areas, the strategy of Satya Nadella seems to acknowledge that they are far enough behind in these areas that they need to partner with others in order to serve their customers well.  While Microsoft may continue to invest in the mobile, tablet and cloud areas, it has become clear that their customers have been the losers by having desktop applications and operating systems that increasingly did not speak to their CRM system. – See more at: http://blogs.c5insight.com/Home/entryid/461/The-Salesforce-com-and-Microsoft-global-partnership-what-it-means-for-CRM-customers#sthash.6GlpjYgG.dpuf



Hosk Final thoughts

It’s an odd day, I always thought of Salesforce as the natural competitor with Dynamics CRM and although Microsoft were behind (after starting late as usual) it felt to me like they were improving at a faster rate, Microsoft were applying the pressure on Salesforce and that perhaps Salesforce would have struggled with their finances and with Microsoft in the end winning the war.

I appreciate Salesforce are not the enemy but it’s good to have a common foe to rally against.

This partnership seems to give Salesforce a bit of renewed hope and has taken away some of the main competitive advantages Microsoft CRM had over Salesforce (e.g. compatibility with the Microsoft stack) but the actual integration won’t happen until 2015 which is quite a distance in the future


I guess Microsoft have bigger fish to fry and need to get as many people as possible using Microsoft Phones, Tablets and Office 365 but it’s not great news for Microsoft Dynamics CRM re-sellers.


In some ways I wonder with the introduction of CRM online and the new social listening and marketing functionality whether Microsoft are looking at selling Microsoft Dynamics CRM almost as off the shelf software (and not as the XRM tool).  The new helpdesk functionality also lends itself to customers using the system without having to do lots of customizations.

This doesn’t really fit in with big customers who take CRM because they like to have CRM on Premise (don’t get me started with the delayed roll out of features to on Premise) so they can keep their own data and these projects usually involve a lot of customizations.

It seems a bit sad that Microsoft is sacrificing the main advantages Microsoft Dynamics CRM has over it’s main competitor for the greater good of Microsoft’s operating system and mobile offerings.

We shouldn’t forget this maybe annoying Microsoft is also adding loads of new features and software into Microsoft Dynamics CRM at a rapid rate that I think Microsoft Dynamics CRM is still moving forward and will still be making ground on Salesforce but perhaps not at the rate it was previously.

I also don’t think this spells the end or slowing investment in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it wouldn’t make sense for them to have invested in Microsoft Dynamics so heavily with the recent acquisitions if they were planning on slowing down investment.

You cannot deny that Satya Nadella the CEO Microsoft is certainly making some dramatic decisions and there seems to be a plan of some kind but at the moment it’s not quite clear what direction Microsoft is heading and how this is going to effect all the parts of the Microsoft organisation.


If you haven’t read enough about the partnership then here are some other articles, although in my opinion they are not as insightful as the two I have mentioned above.







here is the Hosk Video

7 thoughts on “Understanding the Microsoft and Salesforce partnership – why and what now?

  1. skfd June 3, 2014 / 12:31 pm

    I think Dynamics has a lot of technical dept.

    > CRM integration with Microsoft Office, Outlook
    They are terrible. There is no server side “mail merge” no support for different Outlook clients, etc. Looks like Salesforce has everything neatly modern and full package might be cheaper.

    It’s cheaper to partner with Salesforce than to fix everything themselves.


  2. Leon Tribe June 3, 2014 / 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the kind comments Hosk🙂 For partners I do not think this is the end of the world; it just means a shift in sales focus. To compete against Salesforce, saying “we work better with Outlook and Office” will no longer cut it. However, there is still plenty to work with.

    Cost is always going to be a big factor as well as deployment options. Superior customer service and anticipating a client’s needs through knowledge of their business, the product and their industry is unassailable as a competitive advantage and is something all of us can on to edge out the lazier, product-focused competitor.

    Interesting times though🙂


    • Hosk June 3, 2014 / 4:03 pm

      I think you are probably right, if the only reason CRM is being sold is because it integrates nicely with Outlook and Office then we can do better.

      especially when you consider we have social listening, improved marketing and a case management system that is usable, Microsoft CRM should be flying off the shelves


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