For today’s blog, Joe CRM interviews Senior Vice President of PowerObjects, Jim Sheehan, about Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn and what it means for the business community.
What was your immediate reaction upon hearing the news that Microsoft acquired LinkedIn?
My first reaction is that I’m glad Microsoft is investing some of the cash that they’re sitting on. As a Microsoft shareholder and a partner, I think it’s good for large companies like Microsoft to look at ways of bolstering their offerings through acquisition. I didn’t know LinkedIn was on their radar, but I’m happy about it because it directly impacts the business we’re in, which is CRM.
This is Microsoft’s largest acquisition ever. Did the number—26.2 billion—seem big to you?
Anytime they start putting a “b” after the number, yes, it’s a lot of money. But when you think about it, it’s not so much what LinkedIn is or does, it’s the data and what it represents. If you’re in the business of business to consumer (B to C), probably the most valuable company in the world is Facebook because they have the most information on individuals. For the business to business markets, LinkedIn is up there because businesses have more data about the organizations behind the individuals and how they interact.
I’m not an M&A expert by any stretch, but I’d rather have Microsoft spend their cash and buy something than sit on it.
What’s your perspective on how this acquisition aligns with Microsoft’s vision? Why did Microsoft do it?
When we think about Microsoft’s cloud-first, mobile-first vision, that’s an aggregation of things in the cloud that includes the front office applications with Office 365, as well as back-office products with Dynamics and Azure offerings. The LinkedIn acquisition gives Microsoft access to the most business relationship data in the cloud. That will play benefits through the whole cloud-first, mobile-first strategy that Satya has laid out with Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics.
What are the biggest benefits Microsoft partners will see from the acquisition?
From the perspective of the overall partner ecosystem, you want to be partnered with software publishers that are relevant in the marketplace and invest in the future. Microsoft going on to buy LinkedIn for 26 billion shows you that you are partnered with a powerhouse that’s there to win and grow.
How it benefits PowerObjects as a company comes back to how it will impact the Dynamics CRM products specifically. I don’t have any internal knowledge from Microsoft, but think about CRM and break it down into the three workloads—sales, marketing, and customer service.
For sales, it’s a no brainer. Every salesperson will tell you that knowing your web of business connections and being able to connect the dots with who knows whom, is one of the most valuable things you can have in professional selling.
From a marketing perspective, when you take a look at the top of the marketing funnel, one of the ways that the LinkedIn data can help is to really identify the people to market to and do target marketing inside organizations. PowerObjects currently has significant spend on LinkedIn doing targeted marketing, because we know we can get connected to the right people and the right companies.
On the customer service side, it’s often about connecting the dots on who knows who to make sure that you can provide the best service.
What’s the timeline for when we could actually see some of the results of the acquisition, in terms of tying the technologies together?
If everything’s approved, the acquisition won’t close until the end of the year. But some of the immediate benefits that we’ll see—similar to when Microsoft has made other big acquisitions like Nokia, Yammer, Skype—is that they immediately get some outside talent and big brains, plugged into Microsoft, helping to drive in an entrepreneurial way what’s going on. The people from LinkedIn will be looking at the various assets Microsoft has and figure out where they can start adding value. And Microsoft will be doing the same thing when the different business groups look at the LinkedIn IP.
Is there anything you would like to see as a result of the acquisition, particularly for CRM?
I want to see a deep integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM—a complete social selling module that ties into the data into LinkedIn and the ability to surface that right from Dynamics CRM.
For more on the acquisition, you can check out this video of Satya answering some basic questions about the integration.