The final quote in Miguel Helft’s NY Times article on the deepening alliance between Google and CRM software provider Salesforce.com says it all, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend, so that makes Google my best friend.” It’s attributed to Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com. Basically, in a deal announced this morning, Salesforce is integrating Google Apps into its platform so that enterprise users can access the latter directly.
Here’s how the press materials distributed by Google describe the integration and its capabilities:
[Google and Salesforce.com are making] it easy for companies of all sizes to run their business in the cloud with Salesforce for Google Apps. The combination of the Google Apps suite of productivity applications and the Salesforce suite of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications enables businesses to effectively communicate and collaborate without any hardware or software to download, install or maintain. Salesforce for Google Apps also leverages the Force.com Platform and Google’s open APIs, opening up even more development opportunities for developers and partners. . .
–Salesforce and Gmail(TM) – Businesses can now easily send, receive and store email communication, keeping a complete record of customer interactions for better sales execution and improved customer satisfaction. –Salesforce and Google Docs(TM) – Create, manage, and share online Google Documents, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Presentations within your sales organization, marketing group, or support team for instant collaboration. –Salesforce and Google Talk(TM) – Instantly communicate with colleagues or customers from Salesforce and optionally attach Google Talk conversations to customer or prospect records stored in Salesforce. –Salesforce and Google Calendar(TM) – Expose sales tasks and marketing campaigns from Salesforce on Google Calendar. Built by Appirio, this application is one example of a new category of partner extensions to Salesforce for Google Apps.
The companies have been working together in various ways since last year, and this is an evolution of that relationship. For example, Salesforce users have been able to buy AdWords through the platform since early 2007. But for the fact that Salesforce is public ($7.2 billion market cap), it would make sense for Google to buy the company given its desire to penetrate the enterprise. (Salesforce and its customer base becomes a “sales channel” for Google and vice versa to a lesser degree.)
One thing that’s interesting here is the language and positioning. Google has always been cautious to say that it’s not trying to replace MS Office or compete directly with Microsoft. That position, however, has been less credible over time as Apps expands and rolls out new capabilities that directly address Office. But Salesforce CEO Benioff isn’t mincing words. He sees the inclusion of Apps into the Salesforce platform as making his company stronger against its CRM rival in Redmond. Benioff tells TechCrunch:
You’ve seen what we have been doing is slowly integrating all of our services with theirs. Certainly the enemy of my enemy is my friend, which makes Google my best friend. I have spoken with a lot of customers who want to get off of Microsoft Word.
There’s more discussion on Techmeme.
Postscript: The Google blog just posted about the news as well.