I have blogged in the past about Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) being part of Visual Studio 2008 Professional so that all developers who use VS Pro can use these tools to target Office as a smart client application platform.
Most large scale line of business systems like ERP and CRM struggle for broad user adoption whether they are part of a custom application or packaged software from an ISV. In order to help businesses get the value out of these systems, we provided in Visual Studio 2008 the tools to deliver these applications directly in the client and server tools that most users know best – Office and SharePoint.
Here at Microsoft, we use Siebel for managing CRM. Until we integrated Siebel with Outlook and SharePoint, it just wasn’t delivering the value that a CRM system should. With the integrated system, sales people can easily manage accounts & prospects via Outlook and the whole company can search against Siebel information using our intranet powered by SharePoint. Now that’s improved information access. We have lots of other examples too, like our quarterly business management tool integrated with Excel, promotion management tool for SAP built in SharePoint, and our SharePoint, Word & InfoPath based procurement system for SAP. By connecting our business applications into Office and SharePoint, we get more value out of all three. Nothing beats unlocking this kind of latent value to drive adoption of your new applications.
If these kinds of applications sound interesting, I encourage you to attend the Office Developer Conference, Feb 11-13 in San Jose. We’re going to have a lot of new demos, and release new guidance that shows you step by step how to build these kinds of composite business applications. Click here for more details.