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CIOs question value of Microsoft’s LinkedIn buy

Clint Boulton | July 22, 2016
More than a month after the news of the massive acquisition broke, some CIOs are still wondering exactly what Microsoft is getting in the $26.2 billion deal.

You could also argue that a successful integration of LinkedIn will make Office 365 more socially intelligent in ways that the ill-advised and poorly integrated Yammer acquisition could not. Stitching LinkedIn into Dynamics CRM software could enable sales workers to more quickly track down new leads and arm themselves with knowledge about prospects before they engage them.

LinkedIn is a smart, social platform play

Some CIOs who say vendor choice often keeps pricing low while driving innovation high welcome a credible alternative to Salesforce.com. They view Microsoft's buy as a big data play whose value shouldn't be underestimated.

"They're buying this gold mine of data," says Paul Chapman, CIO of Box, which uses Office 365. Chapman says Microsoft customers will benefit from integration with LinkedIn's massive database for building relationships and tracking professionals. As the CIO of a cloud software maker, Chapman loves the idea of having access to virtually every CIO on the planet and sees opportunities to partner, sell to and track people.

charlene li

Charlene Li, founder and CEO of the Altimeter Group research firm,

Brook Colangelo, CTO of publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, says that he will closely watch how Microsoft handles the acquisition, noting that the company has mismanaged Skype, particularly in adapting it for Macs. But, he says, Microsoft and LinkedIn have similar approaches in embracing open platforms that could bode well for the merger. "LinkedIn's openness is essential to the long-term strategy that Microsoft has," Colangelo says. "The worst thing that could happen is locking up LinkedIn, which would diminish its value. An open platform is essential to keeping that user community and that ecosystem happy."

Acquiring LinkedIn shows that Microsoft finally understands that people want to work in a more fluid, collaborative and social way, says Charlene Li, founder and CEO of the Altimeter Group research firm. Despite the arrival of dozens of enterprise social software companies, Microsoft and its enterprise cohorts have struggled to free their apps from the siloed, clunky trappings of legacy and waterfall development. Li says Microsoft erred spectacularly by integrating the agile, fast-moving Yammer team on its slower, bureaucratic Office team, which tried to bolt the social software onto SharePoint.

Microsoft, which has vowed to keep LinkedIn independent, doesn’t intend to make the same mistake, instead weaving LinkedIn data into Office 365 and Dynamics through LinkedIn’s rich APIs. "LinkedIn has a know-how of how to build those kinds of social tools and bring them into the enterprise," Li says. “Microsoft is finally bringing social and digital into the enterprise space.”

 

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