Salesforce.com, Microsoft execs shed more light on new cloud collaboration

Trying to build platforms that are open and partner-centric, including the recently unveiled Windows 10, is a direct response to requests from enterprise customers, according to Microsoft's VP of Windows marketing.

SAN FRANCISCO — The most critical quality for new ecosystems to push enterprise IT forward and thrive in today's world is being open, argued Microsoft’s Windows marketing vice president Tony Prophet.

Sitting down with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff in front of a performance hall packed with several hundred Dreamforce attendees on Monday, Prophet commented on Microsoft’s new developing vision for the enterprise market, which includes an expansion pack for the Salesforce-Microsoft Office 365 integration.

"These were not easy decisions to bring Office to the iPad or iOS ecosystem,” admitted Prophet.

But trying to build platforms that are open and partner-centric, including the newly christened Windows 10 , is a direct response to requests from enterprise customers, he continued.

“Windows 10 is not going to be an incremental step,” Prophet promised, describing it as a “quantum step" in trying to create one platform — one ecosystem — uniting millions of embedded devices that make up the Internet-of-Things movement, from the Surface tablet to the Xbox.

But as far as its new cloud buddy goes, the joint ventures introduced on Monday consist of Salesforce1 for Windows, Salesforce for Office and Power BI for Office 365 and Excel connectivity with Salesforce.

“We’ve seen a very dramatic shift at Microsoft in a short period of time,” observed Benioff, noting this turnover was capped off by a very significant leadership change.

Praising new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for coming in to the role with "a beginner’s mind,” Benioff hinted that’s "how we got here today” in terms of the latest Salesforce-Microsoft partnership.

Prophet concurred, remarking that moving such a large transition forward depends on "clarity in decisions so customers know exactly what they’re getting.” At Microsoft, Prophet continued, that means driving toward the cloud and productivity.

"That dialogue is the beginning of understanding and awareness,” Prophet argued. "People who are learning individuals, that is the mark of a true leader.”

To wary shareholders and analysts, Prophet postulated that a strong company is one that doesn’t “move away from its roots,” but at the same time learns to move forward at “points of triangulation.”

Conveying that message clearly is critical for Microsoft, from the product level to sending the right message to corporate users and even its own employees.

Prophet stressed that “transparency is the foundation of trust in every business relationship.”

For executives looking to change or improve upon transparency protocols, Prophet advised that the first step is to surround yourself with a circle of people who tell you things you don’t want to hear.”

"That dialogue is the beginning of understanding and awareness,” Prophet argued. "People who are learning individuals, that is the mark of a true leader.”

Benioff agreed, remarking "an important part of Dreamforce to talk both about the technology and the human issues.”

Dreamforce 2014 kicked off on Monday, making good on Benioff’s boast in a recent Wall Street Journal article to completely “shut down” downtown San Francisco.

Spilling over several city blocks each year, this year’s show is projecting to welcome roughly 120,000 attendees in-person to Moscone Center — not to mention millions more expected to stream keynotes and sessions online.

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