Microsoft is buying the professional networking social media platform LinkedIn for just over $26 billion (£18 billion), but why?
Well, to put it simply: Microsoft + LinkedIn = $$$ ! LinkedIn has become the go-to tool for recruiting, finding new clients, sharing posts for a wide audience, discussing projects through messaging and group discussions, and the all-important social interactions that happen when anyone clicks “like” on a post or makes a comment. Here’s how Microsoft represented the buy-out:
Buying LinkedIn brings these two graphs together and gives Microsoft more data to feed into its machine learning and business intelligence processes. “If you connect these two graphs, this is where the magic happens, where digital work is concerned,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during a conference call.
The move means that Microsoft will have a 100% share in the business social networking market – one which Facebook has been trying to break into recently. It will also help Microsoft to boost sales of its business and email software. In a letter to staff, Nadella said: “Think about it: How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world”.
But is that all that’s to it? Here’s what we think…
- LinkedIn provides Microsoft with immediate access to more than 433 million members. Thanks to its professional nature, the members using LinkedIn may well require the software and services Microsoft provides. Nadella continues: “This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete”.
- LinkedIn will be the central professional profile that will be surfaced in apps like Outlook, Skype, Office, and even Windows itself. Microsoft wants to turn LinkedIn profiles into a central identity, and the newsfeed into an intelligent stream of data that will connect professionals to each other through shared meeting, notes, and email activity.
- LinkedIn will make Cortana more intelligent in the workplace. Right now, Cortana provides some basic information about your calendar, suggesting, for example, what time you’ll need to leave to ensure you arrive at your next meeting on time. In Microsoft’s digital future, Cortana will be able to sum up what you need to know both about your business relationship, and what information you can use to cement a more personal connection, too. It sounds smarmy, but a good salesperson will tell you that an emotional connection helps seal the deal.
We think this last point about Cortana is the deal maker! Microsoft even provides an example of Cortana connecting to LinkedIn to provide context on people you might be meeting professionally. It’s something the company has been working with LinkedIn to integrate recently, but it’s clear Microsoft sees LinkedIn as a big part of making Cortana more intelligent in the workplace.
LinkedIn still has a reputation for being a spam machine, and recent password dumps and hacks have dented its security reputation. Microsoft will need to clear up both of these issues if it wants LinkedIn to be taken even more seriously by businesses.
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