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Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it was acquiring LinkedIn, the social network for professionals with about 433 million users, for $26.2 billion. If you are a Dynamics CRM or Office 365 user, or operate in a Microsoft IT environment, there are many reasons why this news is an exciting development in our ever-changing technology-driven world.

Just as LinkedIn has the largest online professional network in the world, Microsoft has the largest professional productivity reach in the world. Merging the two will enable Microsoft to leverage LinkedIn insights for key products such as CRM and O365. As TechCrunch points out, “LinkedIn will give Microsoft a far bigger reach in terms of social networking services and professional content — developing the early signs of enterprise social networking that it kicked off with its acquisition of Yammer for $1.2 billion in 2012.”

From the CRM point of view, LinkedIn’s social graph has the potential to make Dynamics CRM a powerful integrated selling tool. According to TechCrunch, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, for example, can “transform the sales cycle with actionable insights” through detailed background information about users to help find leads, open conversations, and close deals.

As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained, “[Office 365 and Dynamics] represent the other side of it. Your ability to add intelligence and insight and the ability for people to, most importantly, take intelligent action, gets very enhanced. That’s where we will sell the solutions, whether it be [organizational] analytics, whether it be analytics and recruiting, whether it be analytics and sales efficiency. Those are the things which people want, and we are really excited about driving that piece.

In addition, there is buzz about combining Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities in users’ LinkedIn news feeds, as well as integrating LinkedIn profile information with Microsoft’s artificial intelligence assistant Cortana, to provide information for upcoming business meetings. These types of integrations aim to provide smarter and relevant information to make users more productive.

Along this theme of productivity, the two company’s leaders see natural benefits that will start to arise since Microsoft will also have access to, LinkedIn’s online learning tool. A part of ensuring that Microsoft products are implemented smoothly is making sure users are learning and adapting in the right ways. “People need access to continuous learning and education, so how can we expand the LinkedIn footprint?” Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO, said. “Imagine that coursework integrated across Microsoft’s ecosystem. Integrated alongside productivity apps, like Excel, Word and PowerPoint, will be a tab called ‘learning.’ In Microsoft products, you will be able to see who you can tap in your network. LinkedIn, Office 365 and Dynamics create value through integration.” This approach to social learning may be complementary to what Microsoft is doing around certification and education across its product lines.

What does all of this mean for your business? In the immediate future, not much. But in the mid- to long-term, if you are a Dynamics CRM or Office 365 user, or even if you’re just considering implementing these products, Microsoft’s evolving product roadmaps just made your investment all the more attractive. Dynamics CRM users will have the unique benefit of more easily accessing LinkedIn information – which is so crucial along the marketing and sales cycle – and Office 365 users will benefit from features that further enhance productivity.

The interesting paradox is that while today’s business world is driven by technology, it’s also driven by people and relationships. To that end, LinkedIn represents exactly what your company is probably trying to build toward: better, stronger relationships with your stakeholders. Combine that with Microsoft’s stronghold on everyday business activity, and you have a productive means by which to build those relationships. This acquisition brings together relationships and technology, so that using the Microsoft platform and products makes the future of your own business more exciting than ever.


About the Author – Shital Shah

Shital Shah has diverse experience in management and strategic consulting with technology-based businesses. She has managed global teams and led projects in 16 countries. Shital focuses on strategic and operational planning and management for Indusa.



Topics: Technology