If you haven't heard, Microsoft announced their intent to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. I have to admit some of Microsoft's acquisitions make me scratch my head (remember Nokia?). Acquiring LinkedIn makes a lot of sense to me particularly in what they could do with it in just one area; Microsoft CRM.
Social selling has been a popular topic in CRM circles for a few years and LinkedIn is the best social tool for B2B selling. While there is tremendous value for salespeople to use LinkedIn I can tell you from a users perspective it isn't all that easy. If you have LinkedIn and a separate CRM system you need to constantly switch between the two. Additionally getting contact information from LinkedIn into CRM is largely a manual process.
Think about how Microsoft could integrate LinkedIn and Microsoft CRM. Being able to pull target prospects into CRM with a single click would be a great feature! Exposing LinkedIn data in CRM would also be nice. Microsoft could integrate premium LinkedIn features like Sales Navigator that lets you build prospect lists and gives you useful updates on your contacts.
Social listening could also be very powerful. Microsoft could open up the LinkedIn interface to allow social listening on conversations.
Another possibility that excites me is layering machine learning on top of a LinkedIn CRM integration. Machine learning could make recommendations on people you should contact based on CRM data. For example if machine learning sees that you have been successful in working with VP's of Sales at companies with 250-500 employees in the hospitality industry, it could present you a list of contacts that meet this criteria and recommend that you connect.
Aside from a CRM integration Microsoft could significantly grow LinkedIn's advertising revenue, an area that LinkedIn never really figured out.
A robust LinkedIn/Microsoft CRM integration could be a game changer for Microsoft.
Beringer Associates, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, is always here to provide expert knowledge on topics like these. Please contact us with any questions you may have.