Salesforce.com announced a new integrated calendar for its Salesforce InBox product this week with the goal of removing the friction between its CRM tool and the calendar. By linking the two tools, it saves employees from having to move deliberately between them.
That may not sound like much, but it's actually attacking a huge pain point for users, especially on mobile devices where it's not always a simple matter to move information between enterprise apps.
The InBox Calendar provides CRM records of anyone attending the meeting that is listed in the calendar invite, so you can get some background on each person before you walk into the room or get on the phone. It also allows you to sync the calendar invite directly with the CRM record, so that there is a listing of all the meetings you've had with this company without having to enter them manually.
If it's a new prospect and data entry is required, you can create a new customer record directly from the calendar and add some quick meeting notes while it's fresh. The linking takes you directly to the CRM tool where you can enter your notes and set up a quick record for the prospect. You can just touch the back button to move back to your calendar and check your next appointment.
Perhaps my favorite feature isn't a syncing tool at all, but one-click dial-in. It takes all of the dial-in and meeting ID info and folds it into a single link, which might not sound like much, but it's a huge time saver, especially when you're working on a mobile device and you have to move between the invite and the dialer to enter the phone and meeting ID info.
Integration increases efficiencyAll of this is designed to help a busy salesperson reduce the amount of time spent interacting with different tools by bringing all of the information they need into a more organized and cohesive workflow that is especially conducive to mobile workers.
While this particular integration works between Salesforce tools, you also see this kind of integration between Salesforce and its partners, such as its integration with Office 365, which is particularly telling because these two companies actually compete directly with one another.
Partnerships like this have evolved because of customer demands to make products work together -- and these large enterprise cloud companies recognize this all too well.
Last year, when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared on stage at Dreamforce, Salesforce's massive customer conference, he made this abundantly clear when he said, "If you look at our industry, how is our industry going to succeed? It’s only going to succeed if we can add value to our customers. Our customers are going to make choices that make the most sense for them, and it’s not going to be homogeneous choices," he said.
This means that cloud vendors need to learn to work together, and that goes whether it's working with a competitor's product, or smooth integration across a single vendor's group of products, as Salesforce announced this week.
Photo Credit: Open Grid Scheduler on Flicker. Used under CC by Public Domain license.