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Satya Nadella on Salesforce integrations and where Microsoft is going next

Here's how Salesforce and Microsoft are deepening their relationship and further integrating their products.

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Jessi Hempel of Wired Magazine and Satya Nadella of Microsoft at Dreamforce 2015.
Image: James Martin/CBS Interactive

At the 2015 Dreamforce conference, Microsoft and Salesforce announced new integrations between their key products to increase collaboration and productivity among their customers.

The Salesforce announcement focused on four new integrations:

  1. A Skype for Business integration with the Salesforce Lightning Experience. Office 365 customers will be able to make voice and video calls, chat, and create web meetings within Salesforce.
  2. OneNote Integration with the Salesforce Lightning Experience. From Salesforce, users will be able to edit notes and connect notes to Salesforce records.
  3. Salesforce Integration with Office Graph and Office Delve. Users will be able to see sales content and customer content within Office Delve.
  4. Salesforce1 Mobile App for Windows 10.

All four of the new integrations will likely be available in preview in the latter half of 2016. Additionally, two integrations that were announced last year, the Salesforce App for Outlook and the Salesforce1 Mobile App for Microsoft Office, will now be generally available.

To discuss the announcements and the roadmap of the company, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sat down with Jessi Hempel of Wired Magazine in a keynote session at Dreamforce.

Microsoft has been broadening its partnerships, even appearing as part of the Apple event last week, and the Salesforce integrations are just one further step in that push. There's been a definite shift in culture since Nadella took the position, and the new partnerships seem to play into the company's mission of "empowering people and empowering organizations."

As the company moves forward, Nadella identified three big ambitions for Microsoft:

  1. Productivity
  2. Building out an intelligent cloud
  3. Make computing more personal and natural

The productivity focus, Nadella said, is a look at how software and services can come together to give users their time back, so they can enjoy both their work and their lives. However, in terms of the new integrations, it all comes down to the identity of the company.

"We are a platform company," Nadella said.

Platform companies do one thing really well, Nadella said, which is they "harmonize the multiplicity of interests." It's the reason why they are partnering broadly and connecting with Salesforce. It's also a part of Microsoft's history, he said, noted the company's past connections with SAP and Oracle.

Much like in Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's keynote, Nadella spoke about how the product must be able to work on every platform. However, he did note an emphasis on mobile in the future.

His first demo during the presentation was with, ironically, an iPhone running Windows apps. Nadella showed some of the machine learning features in Outlook that can be used to "triage" your email and show you what is most pressing. He also showed how information could be exported to Salesforce because of the integration with the Salesforce app.

On a Windows phone, he then showed how the Salesforce integrates with groups before he demoed Outlook 2016, which they'll launch next week.

Going back to the productivity focus, Delve, an information discovery and knowledge tool to track your time, also made an appearance. With the new Salesforce Lightning integration, users will have some Salesforce content counted among their productivity goals and benchmarks.

Changing direction, Hempel asked Nadella what his thoughts were on big data. Nadella called data the currency of your company, and said that in a world of big data, recognizing small patterns becomes the most important thing for businesses.

To harness the power of big data, you must analyze it and make it actionable. Nadella logged in to his Surface Pro 3 with facial recognition, a feature called Windows Hello, and was able to give a quick walkthrough of the Power BI tool and how it can be used to visualize data even with natural language queries.

The next demo that Nadella attempted was a Cortana analytics integration with a startup called Alpine Metrics. He asked Cortana to "Show me my most at-risk opportunities," but it returned results for the "most milk opportunities." After two more failed attempts he gave up, but an assistant was able to give him the results.

The point of the demo was to show that users can query Sales Cloud using their voice with this Cortana Analytics integration.

The final product that was discussed was the AR project Hololens. Nadella said he uses it everyday, but didn't give many details on the state of the product.

When Hempel asked "How close are we really?" Nadella said that a developer kit will be available next year "for sure," but it will ultimately be a five year product journey.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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