Microsoft wants to add LinkedIn to its Professional Network
A few days ago, Microsoft announced a bid for LinkedIn, valued at $26.2 billion. What will this mean within the B2B Marketing and Sales space?
The Software Giant keeps on swallowing
Microsoft has made many spectacular acquisitions in recent years. Minecraft, Skype, and Nokia, to name a few of the larger ones - not to mention a plethora of smaller companies, have all been devoured by the software giant that is Microsoft.
A few days ago, they announced the bid for LinkedIn, valued at $26.2 billion. Not long thereafter, opinions and comments about the expected purchase started pouring in on every media outlet. The purchase seems to be both laughably outrageous and incomparably ingenious at the same time. The strategic edge seems to be directed toward Facebook according to some analysts. Others say it’s aimed towards Google and/or Amazon. Another group say it’s targeted at Slack and other up-and-coming startups with tech.
What happens now? Will Office 365 grow to include external data of contacts and activities? Or is Microsoft looking to get back into the digital advertising space? - Wall Street Journal asks rhetorically.
From B2C to B2B
First of all, the offer should probably be seen as part of a larger strategy by Microsoft to focus on B2B. Moving from their legacy of being the company that dominated the PC market Microsoft is today, through various unsuccessful mobile adventure, a company that mainly sells online services to other businesses.
One (1) platform for customer relations
All thought- and market leading companies within the marketing technology space (Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe, IBM) have more or less the same goal: to own and support the entire customer journey. Creating a platform for businesses to manage their marketing and sales processes - from suspects into paying customers - on a single customer interaction platform. To achieve this requires software, analysis tools and access to the right data.
At Element, LinkedIn is a commonly recommended channel for creating and maintaining qualified B2B sales leads at a reasonable cost. According to a recent study, LinkedIn is responsible for driving 80% of leads generated through social media for B2B companies. It is in this context I believe that the service will contribute most to Microsoft's business.
Acquiring LinkedIn is thereby targeted toward challenging Salesforce (which both Microsoft and SAP, incidentally, have tried to swallow during recent years), IBM and Oracle.
In the game of trying to create the optimal platform for customer interaction management it could be a decisive competitive advantage to control a more or less self-updating, global leads- and customer database such as LinkedIn.
LinkedIn's role in the ecosystem to generate and evaluate leads and convert them to customers based on strategic information that the user largely updates herself.