by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Strategy, ViewpointTagged as: CRM, LinkedIn, Microsoft
What do you do if you have a spare $26 billion hanging around? If you are Microsoft, you buy professional social networking site LinkedIn.com. What do you do if you are an avid LinkedIn user, or if LinkedIn is central to your organization’s engagement and marketing plans? Be happy, but just maybe, also be careful.
Firstly, why would Microsoft make the purchase? In many ways, Microsoft is like the Queen Mary: beautiful, but also big, bloated, and slow-to-turn. Its strength has always been on the desktop, with the one-two punch of the Windows operating system and the MS-Office suite (or rather “Microsoft 365”). Arguably, it has not been able to capitalize on most of the internet and social media revolution, ceding leadership to the likes of Google, YouTube (eg Google again), Facebook, Twitter, and many others. Slowly but surely, it has been adding cloud-based services, some built internally (Office 365, Azure cloud platform, and others), and some purchased (such as Skype). So why LinkedIn? Nine reasons…
It’s unlikely Microsoft will rush to immediately monetize their purchase. As some users may be spooked, Microsoft may wish to leave LinkedIn untouched for a period of time – much the same way they have done with Skype.
So what does this all mean? On one hand, significant potential, particularly with the integration of LinkedIn data with Microsoft’s SAAS offerings. On the other hand, there is business risk for its users: Do users really want to be captive to another business’ rental unit? We may think that we own our marketing destiny, but we don’t: if the machinery (or social venue) is owned by someone else, whether we pay with our credit cards or pay with our data, we are tenants. And tenants are subject to the whims of the landlord. (For those who follow, here is a very short list of Microsoft’s technologies that are no longer around: Zune, Silverlight, Windows Live Spaces, KIN, various Windows mobile technologies, Microsoft Money, Windows RT tablets, Windows Media Center, and dozens more.)
What would happen if Microsoft fundamentally changed the LinkedIn ground rules? Perhaps by changing the economic model, or by limiting key-for-you functionality, or by using your data for their own purposes? This week, look at these three scenarios, and find a way to limit your exposure. (Hint: one way is to migrate your relationships from LinkedIn into a CRM such as Salesforce.)
Management insight: For a number of LinkedIn employees (and potential employees), the idea of working for the slo-mo Microsoft may be less interesting than working for an exciting new-economy success story. How many veterans will have exited? And might the type of people who choose to work at LinkedIn in the future be of a different caliber than those who created its initial success? While the acquisition price was $26 billion, an important part of the company’s value is derived through its employees. The importance of employee retention plans can’t be overstated.
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