The lovefest between Microsoft and Salesforce.com continues, this time with a new connector for Outlook that links Salesforce connections to the Outlook contact and calendar manager.
Microsoft made the announcement via the Office blog, noting that sales reps rely on two primary tools Customer Relational Management (CRM) and email. "Yet, CRM and email have traditionally been disconnected tools, and sales reps have had to spend valuable time toggling between these apps," the company noted.
Manually adding contacts or calendar events from email to CRM or having to move back and forth between the two waste a lot of time.
Enter Lightning for Outlook, an add-in that bridges the gap by allowing users to search, view and update Salesforce CRM entries connected with their email accounts within Outlook itself.
If there is a caveat it's the restrictions on supported versions of Outlook. The Lightning for Outlook add-in works only on Outlook 2013 for Windows, Outlook 2016 for Windows, Outlook 2016 for Mac or Outlook on the web with either Office 365, Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2016 mailboxes. Anyone using Outlook 2010 or older is out of luck.
Eventually you will also be able to add custom sales apps directly into Outlook, creating permanent shortcuts for tasks such as updating a price quote using SteelBrick. Microsoft hasn't given a release date for that feature.
The new add-in is now available from the Office Store for Sales Cloud users. Lightning Sync is available at no additional cost for those with Sales Cloud Lightning Enterprise Edition or higher.
Microsoft is sure putting Outlook to some interesting uses. At the Build conference earlier this year it announced a Starbucks for Outlook add-in. The add-in adds a "Meet at Starbucks" button to the Outlook ribbon, making it easy to schedule a meeting at a nearby coffee house.