Salesforce.com Plugs into Microsoft Office
Salesforce.com last week announced a new plug-in designed for Microsoft’s Office that lets users import data from its Salesforce.com hosted CRM services into Excel, Outlook, and Word.
Although most business intelligence (BI) vendors have developed client-side tools for use with their products, Microsoft Office—and the Excel spreadsheet in particular—remain important tools for many users. “Recent research suggests that end users continue to look to spreadsheets as the one key analysis tools to supplement their other BI tools,” writes Dan Vesset, a senior analyst for information access tools with IDC. “The familiarity with spreadsheet functionality and their inherent flexibility continues to make tools such as Microsoft Excel an integral part of most Business Analytics implementations.”
Salesforce.com says that the Office Edition plug-in is available to all its customers at no charge. Officials say that the plug-in installs seamlessly into any of several versions of Office—Office 2000, Office XP, and Office 2003—and creates new pull-down menus that allow users to sign into Salesforce.com and pull data from the CRM system.
Salesforce.com says the Office Edition plug-in lets users create tools such as automatic proposal generators and custom analytics within Excel and Word. Unlike some Excel integration technologies from BI vendors—Applix Inc. and Actuate Corp. (among others) support read/write support for Excel in their products—the new Salesforce.com plug-in provides read-only functionality, such that users can view CRM information in Office but cannot make changes to it.
Salesforce.com officials say the Office Edition plug-in is based on its sforce 2.0 application server and builds on top of the Microsoft Outlook integration that the hosted CRM provider announced in November with the Winter ’04 release of its Salesforce.com CRM stack.
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.