SAP, Microsoft partner against Salesforce

Starting in mid-2021, Microsoft and SAP plan to integrate Teams into the latter's business application portfolio. The move is seen as a response to rival Salesforce.

By midyear, SAP plans to start rolling out Microsoft Teams across its business application portfolio, a move expected to provide SAP customers with collaboration features similar to what rival Salesforce will have following its Slack acquisition.

The Teams integration will occur in stages in the SAP S/4HANA ERP suite, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Customer Experience, Ariba, Concur and Fieldglass. The combined products will let SAP customers communicate and share info within the business applications. Simultaneously, Teams users could perform SAP functions within the collaboration service.

"By integrating Microsoft Teams across our solution portfolio, we will bring collaboration to the next level, jointly determining the future of work and enabling the frictionless enterprise," SAP CEO Christian Klein said last week in a statement announcing the deal.

Christian Klein, SAP CEOChristian Klein

SAP's latest partnership with Microsoft is in response to Salesforce's $27.7 billion acquisition of Teams competitor Slack, analysts said. Salesforce expects to complete the transaction by the end of July.

The Teams integration will provide SAP customers with a leading collaboration application. In return, Microsoft will offer Teams through the global software maker's products.

"They want to keep the pressure on Salesforce," said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting.

SAP has a collaboration platform called SAP JAM. The software hasn't reached the popularity of Teams or Slack, however. With Teams, SAP adds software many of its customers know or might already have.

"They're selecting one of the market leaders to partner with," said IDC analyst Wayne Kurtzman.

The SAP-Microsoft deal is not exclusive. SAP could provide options other than Teams in the future.

"It's just [that] we're doing it first with Teams," said David Robinson, managing director of SAP's customer success office. "The relationship with Microsoft makes it easy in terms of getting access to the right people and the engineering commitment."

SAP and Microsoft have been partners for years. In 2017, the companies agreed to run S/4HANA on the Microsoft Azure cloud and offer it as a service. The companies also decided to use the cloud-based version of the ERP system internally. In 2019, SAP signed a three-year agreement to use Azure as the preferred cloud infrastructure provider for S/4HANA.

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