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Microsoft-LinkedIn Tie-Up to Help Partners, Eventually

- Blog

Lynn HaberWith Monday’s news of Microsoft’s $26.2 billion bid for LinkedIn, the software giant’s vast ecosystem of partners is no doubt wondering, what’s in it for them?

While Microsoft declined to comment on how the acquisition news may impact channel partners, the vendor did provide some insight on its vision for the combined entity – think more expansive opportunities for partners – on an investor call earlier today.

Before delving into some details, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella did mention using the company’s field and distribution channels to scale out the LinkedIn business to reach more businesses and customers. For developers he talked about APIs that are available through Azure and other tools to grow opportunity.

Once regulators approve the transaction, partners can expect to see some tremendous innovation; however, it will take time.

“The acquisition is a deliberate strategy by Microsoft that will come into action about two to three years from now," Anurag Agrawal, Techaisle CEO and analyst shared, given that Microsoft’s strategy is to integrate social, collaboration, communication and productivity to help it's customers achieve business objectives of faster growth and quicker innovation.

“Microsoft will have to work hard to bring together into one strong portfolio its products: Lynda, Skype, Cortana, Office 365, Dynamics, LinkedIn and somewhat-now-unknown Yammer and Marketing Pilot," he added.

According to Nadella, with the integration of LinkedIn with Microsoft productivity and business-process applications (i.e. Office 365, Dynamics and Azure, Active Directory), there’s great potential to bring together Microsoft’s cloud – collaboration, calendar, documents, messaging, meetings, contacts, customer accounts, expertise and email, with LinkedIn’s professional network – prospects, jobs, universities, coworkers, insights, learning, and, recruiting and hiring managers … for starters.

“LinkedIn [profile] becomes the social fabric across all of Microsoft whether that’s in Outlook or Excel, Skype or PowerPoint, Word or SharePoint," Nadella told listeners on the call. He gave an example of looking up a contact on Active Directory that is infused with rich content from a LinkedIn profile. Or, think about LinkedIn’s intelligent newsfeed, which ties to a LinkedIn member’s profile attributes, being informed by projects a user is working on or calendar information or upcoming meeting.

How about walking into a meeting and Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant, providing you with extensive information about the people you’re meeting with, the CEO suggested.

On the business customer side, think about the integration between Dynamics CRM with LinkedIn Sales Navigator for social selling – deeper prospect insights and trusted relationship building equal more sales.

There was also talk about organizational insights and transformation or gaining better insights into company employees, and just-in-time social learning utilizing LinkedIn’s Lynda.com, an online business learning platform.

Here’s what ThinkStrategies managing director Jeff Kaplan had to say about today’s news.

“This acquisition has the potential to fundamentally change the way CRM, SFA, marketing automation, HRM, collaboration/productivity and other traditional enterprise applications are designed and delivered. LinkedIn’s social networking, newsfeeds and analytics can strengthen Microsoft’s Office365 productivity capabilities, reinvigorate its Dynamics CRM capabilities, and open new recruitment and training opportunities for Microsoft. The company’s channel partners will be able to capitalize on these possibilities in multiple horizontal application areas, as well as specific industry and geographic market segments," he told us.

Microsoft expects the transaction to close later this year.

Follow senior editor Lynn Haber on Twitter.

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