Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exchange Sync [sic] vs. Salesforce for Outlook

There's an intentional mistake in this Summer '15 post's title: The true comparison is between Email Connect and Salesforce for Outlook ("SFO"), not between Exchange Sync and SFO. If you are currently confused by Email Connect vs. Exchange Sync like I used to be, read on.

Basically, there are two key capabilities desired in any Salesforce-Outlook integration:
  • Record synchronization. Contacts, events (i.e., appointments and meetings), and tasks should be synchronized between a user's Salesforce experience and his Outlook experience.
  • Easy access to CRM data. A user working within Outlook should be able to easily look up records in Salesforce and to attach emails to those records.

Email Connect and Salesforce for Outlook take different approaches to implementing those two capabilities.

Email Connect Salesforce for Outlook
Record Sync Exchange Sync, which uses a service account on Exchange Server and simple configuration in Salesforce to enable fast, auto-magic synchronization to and from any app or device that connects to Exchange Server Salesforce for Outlook service, which must be running in the background on a user's local machine. This means that as soon as the machine is shut down or put to sleep, sync stops completely.
CRM Data Access Salesforce App for Outlook, which produces an interactive side panel in Outlook, using the new apps for Office platform. Using the apps for Office platform means that this app can look and feel native, without a user needing to actually download or install an add-in on his local machine. Salesforce Side Panel add-in, which is an add-in that must be installed on a user's local machine and and then enabled in Outlook
Software? No! Yes, Salesforce for Outlook

While the Salesforce App for Outlook is still being developed to meet and then exceed the capabilities of the currently GA Salesforce for Outlook add-in, admins can actually get the best of both worlds by mixing the two solutions. An admin can implement Exchange Sync (Beta) and still use the SFO add-in, with the SFO sync functionality turned off. This possibility is critically important for organizations that are using an older version of Exchange Server that doesn't support apps for Office.

In short, Email Connect is the true alternative to Salesforce for Outlook. And the long-term vision for Email Connect seems to be a no-software solution that not only syncs contacts, events and tasks, but also gives users an interactive side panel for easily working with Salesforce data directly within Outlook.

Incredibly, "no software" implies that all this to be achieved without the user having to install a single piece of software. Boom!