Microsoft Office Goes Deeper Into Business Process Management

Microsoft Office is great for doing a lot of things and Microsoft wants to ensure it remains great and can do MANY MORE things, such as helping business professionals manage data the way they want to and using the applications they want – be it Microsoft Office or something else.

With that in mind, Microsoft is releasing a strategy to foster the development of Office Business Applications, a new breed of “People-Ready” business solutions that allow information workers to use their familiar Microsoft Office environment for accessing and interacting with business applications and structured processes.
Already developers can build hooks into Word, Outlook and other tools to seamlessly bring data in and out of a 3rd party application, in and out of Microsoft Office. However, Microsoft wants to help 3rd party developers enable even more integration with Microsoft Office.
For example, MSFT’s press release reads that salespeople want to access customer information, manage their sales calls in their Microsoft Office Outlook calendar, access product experts inside their company, and make proposals without “reinventing the wheel.” These more fluid processes help them get their jobs done, but typically are not part of traditional customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
The development of Office Business Applications is made possible by new platform capabilities in the 2007 Microsoft Office system. These capabilities are called Office Business Application (OBA) Services and consist of: workflow; search; the Business Data Catalog; a new, extensible user interface; Microsoft Office Open XML Formats; and the Web Site and Security Framework. These services can be used to extend Microsoft Office system investments in business intelligence, unified communications and collaboration, and enterprise content management, as well as other
business applications by ISVs or corporate developers.
NetSuite, Salesforce.com, Intuit and other “business process management” software vendors have built stable products with loyal followings of users. However, these vendors know that to EXTEND their products and make them even more a part of their customer’s day to day lives they must enable them to work more seamlessly with 3rd party applications.
By expanding their software development kits and making an ecosystem of plug and play applications they are making it as easy as possible for 3rd party developers to build hooks into their programs. The software vendors add life and value to their products.
Companies don’t want to buy a product, only to have to drastically change the way they do business. If they do, they’ll find their employees won’t use the software. Instead they want to buy software tools that will work with the existing tools their staff (sales, HR, etc) are using now, with as little change as possible.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook