By Jim Tate
According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “This [Microsoft/LinkedIn] deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network.” It appears—at the outset—that the intent is to draw on more data to boost productivity and make both LinkedIn and Microsoft more essential to people’s workdays.
But what does that really mean for business professionals and the organizations they work for? How does it impact—if at all—overall productivity levels at both the individual and corporate level?
Based on what I saw at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month, the acquisition aligns well with the pervasive theme of using systems of intelligence to enable digital transformation for businesses. The acquisition of LinkedIn provides the ability for Microsoft to extend services to help businesses meet two of the four pillars of business digital transformation (engaging customers and empowering employees).
Exactly how and when these integrations will arrive remains to be seen, but here’s a look at a few predictions/possibilities.
Access to the right data at the right time
Currently, accessing someone’s contact information is an exercise in frustration for many users. Information is strewn across multiple locations (e.g., Outlook, personal or business cell phones and/or a CRM system) with little to no consistency with what information is available via one stream versus another. Updates to job history and skills are often missing from these data sources. By integrating the information found on LinkedIn within standard Office applications, business users can stop wasting time looking at outdated sources for contact information. Whether you’re trying to set up a meeting, send an email or call a reference, you can be sure that you are obtaining the updated information from LinkedIn every time, and without extra steps.
Reducing newsfeed overload
We live in a world where access to information is instantaneous. But, we go in search of it in many different places. The LinkedIn newsfeed will provide the right blend of work-related news to stay connected directly within your business applications, without the need for plug-ins. For example, if you’re working on a project, your Delve newsfeed will tee up relevant articles related to the task at hand. Additionally, if you are using the new Researcher functionality in Office 365, LinkedIn information could be served up by the digital intelligence systems directly with Microsoft Word Online. That means you can spend less time in the web browser looking for news, industry stats and other pieces of content and focus more time on completing the project at hand. Now that’s being productive!
Cortana, your new BFF
Cortana is a digital assistant, helping users perform all sorts of tasks. She will help you find things on your computer, manage your calendar, track packages, find files and—if you want—chat with you, too. Now, you can take productivity to a whole new level because she’s able to take these tasks and infuse the information you’d need from your professional network. For example, with tighter LinkedIn integration, Cortana will not only be able to tell you when your next meeting is scheduled and with whom, but also notify you of any interests that person has recently shared. Cortana could also provide information on any shared connections with meeting attendees, and pull up any articles that may help during the meeting. Like your BFF, she gets you. She knows what you need and anticipates when you need it.
Social selling—the new norm
Sales teams rejoice! The integration of LinkedIn with the Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM system means there will be lots of additional background information about prospective clients to help sales find leads, open conversations and close deals even faster. It’s all thanks to actionable insights and deeper connections made available by combining LinkedIn data with the processing power of Office Graph and Delve Analytics. Sales teams will be able to leverage mutual connections to help make introductions, make recommendations and help close deals faster.
The Microsoft and LinkedIn alliance promises a more connected workplace, which means greater productivity. Meanwhile, privacy concerns are emerging and many wonder if this partnership will be a success. We’ll have to wait and see, but there are some great possibilities for productivity gains.
Tell us your thoughts. Do you think you’ll be more productive as a result of this union? Can you envision other ways this acquisition could benefit you or your business?