On Monday, June 13th 2016, Microsoft announced a $26.2 billion acquisition of Linkedin. Terms of this acquisition have been reported to be unanimously accepted by both organizations, but beyond the benefits to these two soon-to-be-merged businesses, this news has significant bearing across multiple markets. In the spheres of marketing and sales, customer experience, and even human capital management (HCM) the intersection of the offerings of both Microsoft and Linkedin have sizable implications. While my colleagues Omer Minkara, and Howard Adamsky share their insights on customer experience and HCM in their own posts (which are well worth a look/click as well), what follows is my synopsis specifically on marketing and sales.
In the world of marketing and sales, individually, Microsoft and Linkedin have been dominant players in their own respective ways. Through its Dynamics platform, Microsoft has positioned itself as a system record for both vital sales functions as a CRM, and through marketing automation integrations, a driver of sophisticated marketing campaigns. For individual sales reps, Linkedin has also been an invaluable source of prospecting information and research, and from a marketing standpoint, a highly valuable source for pulling in contact data, and pushing out engaging communications or highly targeted advertisements.
With this merger, the primary implication is that these two companies are addressing a significant gap in the present marketing and sales market place. Organizations can purchase solutions to store, manage, and organize data and workflows from one place, and then must go elsewhere to actually get names, or share content that furthers demand or purchase intent. Traditionally, such business users would then have to try to understand their buyers based on the data aggregated in a system like a CRM or MAP, while buyers are actually operating in a separate environment like Linkedin. This acquisition may, therefore, bridge the gaps between the business’s operational environment (CRM / MAP) and the buyer’s relevant environment (social media).
Furthermore, under the umbrella of a stable parent company like Microsoft, the security of Linkedin as an available social network also becomes much more certain. While other networks like Twitter or Facebook presently rely on having their own viable revenue models to keep the lights on, so to speak, Linkedin has an added stakeholder to help ensure the lights stay on. On the sales side, the modern sales process has become heavily dependent, in a competitive sense, on social media channels. In other words, “social selling” is now just a part of regular selling. For sales organizations to know that investments in Linkedin training, development and outreach activities will be much less likely to be squandered (companies have wasted plenty of time on Myspace, Friendster, and Google+ in the past), the refinement of these efforts becomes a much more worthwhile endeavor. Similarly, on the marketing side, this also ensures that advertising and social interaction/ content sharing activities are going to have a more stable, longstanding venue from which to generate leads.
Ultimately, only time will tell how this merger will actually pan out. From my perspective, what’s important is to see the potential, and prepare to make the most of it when the time comes. Potentially, there could be plenty of other implications as well, however, so please feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below!