Unless you have been living under a cloud recently, then you will be aware that Microsoft has recently acquired the business social network LinkedIn at a cost of approximately 26 billion US Dollars. This could turn out to be a very shrewd move from Microsoft, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the two companies going forward.
The publicity announcements after the completion stated that the two companies would remain as sperate entities in their own right, but it would seem logical that there will be siginficant data sharing as Microsoft looks to extract every last cent of value from their acquisition.
What can we learn and build from the acquisition?
Microsoft has always been an enterprise focused company, and there are already many synergies that will come into play. Here are some of the developments that are already under way
- Any sponsored content paid to advertise on LinkedIn will be extended to include all of Microsofts Online Properties
- For anyone, which uses Microsoft Office, their LinkedIn identify and network will be made accessible within the Office products
- Windows Action Center will now include LinkedIn notifications automatically
- Enterprise LinkedIn Lookup will now be powered by Microsoft technology
There are many paths that Microsoft could decide to tread using this information. Using LinkedIn profiles to assess account management, for example, could provide increased and intelligent led sales opportunities and beneficial networking possibilities.
It Managers Will Have The Capability Of Blocking This Shared Information
Quite ironically, though, the number one reason the majority of people use LinkedIn is when they are actively looking for a new job. It would not be beneficial for their current employer to allow this flow of LinkedIn information to start to propogate itself during office hours. Consequently, Microsoft have enabled an option for IT managers to block this from happening, which is another example how Microsoft have changed therir thinking process in recent years.
Unlike Google, who have always targeted advertising, Microsoft continues to remain focused on their customers, which in the majority of cases are the big business accounts that use their products. They will have to tread a very fine line between business and social media in order not to upset their main clientele. Unlike Google, Microsoft will need to manage this proactively, giving individual users clear and easy options, so that they can make an informed decision, which information they share, and which information they receive as the price of admission for being on the LinkIn network.
The other big challenge facing Microsoft is the perception that they purchase another company without any clearly defined strategy, and then rather than enhance that business, it slowly gets forgotten and less relevant. This is something that Mark Ling predicted in the learn build earn review, which follows a similar strategy. Perhaps the best, or worst example of this in recent years is their acquisition of Nokia, where virtually everyone that joined Microsoft as part of the deal is no longer employed by the company. LinkedIn is a valuable brand; otherwise, Microsoft wouldn’t have invested such a huge sum of money to purchase it, but they need a coherent and structured strategy to drive the brand forward. This is not an area of business where Microsoft have an excellent reputation, indeed some people may decide to close their LinkedIn accounts in protest at the completion of the deal.
This deal further increases the competition between Microsoft and Google, and it will be interesting to observe how the battle develops in the future.