How Microsoft Could Leverage LinkedIn’s Business

Read the article on CIODive.comI spoke with CIO Dive about the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal and what the synergies are. Here are the three key questions they asked along with my responses:

What is Microsoft going to do with LinkedIn user data?
Beyond the synergies around Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM and Bing ad targeting, LinkedIn user data could be used to augment Microsoft Outlook’s email address book functionality. Contact information can get stale quickly. But LinkedIn data could be used to keep this information current—as well as to suggest alternative potential contacts by using company names and titles when the contact a user has is no longer relevant. A live, auto-updating address book would be a powerful addition to Outlook.

How can they use LinkedIn to promote products?
Microsoft will certainly be able to use LinkedIn to directly promote their products through ads and other content on the network. But the greater opportunity is to use the platform to demonstrate how useful Microsoft tools are rather than just telling LinkedIn users that they’re useful.

For instance, Microsoft could replace LinkedIn messaging with Outlook 365, reserving some advanced functionality for Premium LinkedIn users. The ability to compose rich messages using Word and schedule meetings using Outlook’s calendar from within LinkedIn would be very attractive. Plus, Microsoft could integrate Skype into LinkedIn so the meetings themselves could happen within the social network. Integrating Cortana into LinkedIn, especially into their mobile app, could also prove powerful.

How does this fit in with Office 365?
In addition to replacing LinkedIn messaging with Outlook 365 and using LinkedIn connections to create a live, auto-updating address book, Microsoft could also add interactive functionality to create more powerful email experiences. For instance, Google allows you to approve Google Plus connection requests inside emails in Gmail without clicking through to Google Plus, and Gmail supports embedded video content from YouTube. Microsoft should follow Google’s lead and strengthen the ecosystem around Outlook 365 by integrating it with LinkedIn and SlideShare so that emails from LinkedIn are interactive and supporting SlideShare embeds.

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