CRM and Personal Productivity: Two Sides of the Same Coin

With all the recent news analysis I’ve been reading about the Google/Salesforce announcement, it got me thinking…the partnership obviously speaks to the importance that CRM vendors are now placing on personal productivity and CRM solutions. That, in turn, is a long-heralded attempt by vendors to overcome the always formidable task of ensuring flexibility and end-user buy-in. It’s for these reasons I whole-hardly agree with the comments of Brad Wilson, general manager of Dynamics CRM at Microsoft, in a recent article I read:

“I think the announcement is a belated recognition by Salesforce that the world of CRM and personal productivity needs to come together.”

That’s why Microsoft Dynamic users can run Dynamics CRM as an add-on client directly inside of Outlook, or export CRM data into Word or Excel. Other vendors such as Siebel and SAP built out somewhat similar integration like this years ago, and it’s why we at SugarCRM built an Outlook plug-in, and more specifically, developed a new email client for Sugar 5.0, among a host of other functional requirements we’ve built into the product to make it fun and easy to use.

Salesforce and Google, on the other hand, are looking to cut any binding ties associated with product upgrades and integration by hosting their software in a “cloud computing” environment, though I’ve read that many of the open APIs both companies guaranteed as early as last year didn’t come to fruition, with much of the work being accomplished leveraging non-public specifications, such as single sign-on user authentication.

Which once again brings us back to flexibility, which is what businesses are really speaking to when they’re talking about integration…flexibility that can only be truly delivered via the open source model. Whether the ease of integration, and thus personal productivity, is found by Salesforce customers…well only time will tell.