Recently, Microsoft announced that it had acquired LinkedIn via a cash buyout of $26.2 billion – the third largest acquisition of 2016 thus far. Due to the notoriety of the two companies involved, this high profile purchase has garnered many headlines and has amplified discussion of the cloud war. Many companies are pouring money into cloud-based platforms for a variety of reasons, including long-term cost efficiency, increasing collaboration, supporting scalability, etc. Cloud spending surpassed $175 billion in 2015, 24% more than 2014, and by 2019, it is expected to exceed $315 billion1. But what the digital transformation headlines have overshadowed is the effect on the human capital industry. An abundance of opportunities regarding people in the workplace could unfold after merging an enormous multinational technology company with a business oriented social networking service.
By integrating LinkedIn with Microsoft’s productivity tools, such as Office 365 and the digital assistant, Cortana, the Microsoft product suite could now be every employee’s true personal assistant. Let’s use the example of having a meeting with a prospective client. The meeting is set up and ready to go on each user’s Outlook calendar. The two parties know nothing about each other’s backgrounds because they have never met. With Microsoft’s new capabilities, by the time the two sides were to meet, they could know more about each other than they may care to know. Cortana could access data about the client and easily calculate the information that the user would like to know; where their counterpart attended college, what previous company the individual worked for, or even what personal interests align. All of this information could be sent to the user’s inbox, or even included in the calendar invite. This same logic could be applied to an interview with a candidate for a job or even towards a new employee at the user’s company. Sure, anyone could simply log onto LinkedIn, search for the person of interest, and find a swarm of relative information. But with the integration of LinkedIn and Microsoft Office products, it would be extremely simple and require minimal effort. That level of simplicity is the synergy that Microsoft envisions.
Microsoft and LinkedIn haven’t announced their plans yet but their integration would allow businesses to easily access LinkedIn corporate contacts right within a business’ CRM in order to track new leads. Also, human resources departments are constantly posting job openings on LinkedIn. With the integration between CRM tracking and LinkedIn profiles and connections, lists of potential matches could be generated.
Let’s now take this one step further. Last year, LinkedIn acquired Lynda, an online education company that offers a variety of videos that teach business skills. If a targeted employee needs to learn or enhance a new skill to fill a role, that individual would be able to learn it through access to Lynda. All of the functions are intertwined in one application.
In reality, it is hard to know what Microsoft’s exact plans are at this point in time. Satya Nadella and Jeff Weiner, Microsoft and LinkedIn’s respective CEO’s, have hinted at a few topics, but the actual blueprint has yet to see the light. The newly integrated application could be used externally for sales opportunities and client relationships, and even internally for recruiting and development. Employees might become more informed and empowered, thus changing the ways of the everyday workplace. The bottom line is that Microsoft now has access to LinkedIn’s 433 million users – the possibilities are endless.
 USA Today