Microsoft+LinkedIn : What it means to HR

What LinkedIn brings to MS

LinkedIn is the world’s largest and most valuable professional network, and it has had 101% growth year over year to more than 7 million active job listings, as well as 19% growth YOY to more than 433 million global members. LinkedIn’s purchase marks Microsoft’s 196th acquisition of another company — it is incidentally also MS’s most expensive purchase.

Microsoft will shell out a whopping 26.2 bn$ for LinkedIn’s 433 mn users (yes, the purchase consideration does include LinkedIn’s net cash of $1.76 bn ($3.16 billion of cash – $1.4 billion of convertible and long-term debt); but still.). At 60.5$ per user, you must be kidding. If you consider only the 105 mn Monthly Active users (MAUs), it even higher at 249.5$ per active user

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What LinkedIn means to the HR community

“LinkedIn’s core business is based today around recruitment ads and, to a lesser extent, premium subscriptions for users. The recruitment business (termed “Talent Solutions”) accounted for $2 billion of the company’s $3 billion in revenues in 2015.”

LinkedIn’s data on jobs, skills, organizational structures, regional trends, educational institutions and other areas relevant to business is a unique asset that provides nearly limitless opportunity to add value to CRM, HR and marketing applications.

LinkedIn’s applied big data expertise in marketing, recruiting and advertising complements and deepens Microsoft’s AI/machine learning and data warehousing reach for the company’s operations itself and for customers.

What the deal means for employers who source talent on LinkedIn has yet to be determined, but no doubt having Microsoft’s muscle behind it will give LinkedIn a chance to have more impact in the talent recruitment and networking landscape.

What lies on the path ahead

It seems that Microsoft and LinkedIn want to more than just dominate recruiting, they want to build a holistic “human capital” business.

LinkedIn CEO indicated that LinkedIn and Microsoft will build from its foundation in recruiting and networking into the wider businesses of productivity, organization and personal and professional development.

LinkedIn will “[expand] beyond recruiting and learning & development to create value for any part of an organization involved with hiring, managing, motivating or leading employees. This human capital area is a massive business opportunity and an entirely new one for Microsoft.”

For human resources and recruitment professionals, this means that their favourite social network is about to get much more useful, with more tools, and potentially. Tool integration also promises to offer combined organization, workforce and talent data, all in one place.

It is all about data – the Linkedin-Cortana play

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“Cortana” is Microsoft’s intelligent assistant.

With Nadella offering to give its Cortana digital assistant access to data from LinkedIn, HR can tomorrow, potentially, use Cortana to prep for interviews, get support from data in terms of references, and skills about a candidate. Cortana, a Siri-like assistant, will be able to provide information on candidates or even employees and their networks that can be very useful for HR fraternity to enhance the “humanness” of relations and the “emotional connect.

Facebook for Work

This deal could also be Microsoft’s answer to Facebook for Work

More people use Facebook’s enterprise product in India than any other market. The company launched Facebook for Work in beta testing last January, and it now has over 450 companies trying it out – including big corporations like Heineken and the Royal Bank of Scotland – but India has emerged as its top country. Many organizations, like Godrej, Piramal, are already using Facebook at Work.

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Microsoft plans to integrate LinkedIn newsfeed into the Office 365,

LinkedIn’s newsfeed “that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.”

That will mean users can keep track of what’s happening in their professional network while they are working. That will mean great value for their enterprise customers as companies already use MSOffice, which dilutes the need to move to Facebook at work when Office would provide a “Facebook-like” built in?

Experiences that get more intelligent and delightful

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By integrating professional profile data into Office 365, email and other communication apps, users would be more inclined to keep that information up-to-date as it would be more visible to friends, colleagues and others. And on the flip side, these integrations would make that data more easily accessible to anyone who wanted to know more about a professional’s background or experience.

Access Experts via Word and PowerPoint

Regardless of your profession, you’ve probably been tasked with writing a report, a story, or a homework assignment that was slightly above your head. You opened up your Microsoft Office 365 package to access a Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint document, typed in a bunch of text, and then hopped over to Google to find more detailed information to reinforce your claims.

Well, Microsoft can now build LinkedIn into its productivity suite to help you find thought leaders and experts who you can instantly message for background information and key statistics. Why run a Google search for product/service offering by cajobportal.com, when you can communicate with the co-founders directly?

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The way I envision this tool working is simple: You highlight a set of text: “Why would Microsoft buy LinkedIn” and you right-click on it. In addition to seeing synonyms, antonyms, and formatting options, you’ll also be provided with the option to “Find Experts,” or “Message Experts.” Within a few minutes you’ll be able to fire off an S.O.S. to the world’s leading experts for rich context.

HRMS

The leverage that Microsoft can gain in their human-resources management software can be a threat for current players like SAP SuccessFactors, Oracle Taleo and Fusion suites, Cornerstone on Demand, IBM Kenexa and others in this space. Microsoft could make LinkedIn profile as the default identity/bio for an individual across apps and devices for companies as well as default profile in the context of the enterprise. Microsoft could integrate LinkedIn data to build predictability on talent decisions and could provide a far more superior service for both recruiters and talent management leaders.

Employee Directory

LinkedIn was considering getting into the business of running internal directories offered by their employers for corporate customers. Such a move would put LinkedIn in more or less direct competition with a key part of Microsoft’s Exchange offering.

Microsoft Outlook

Imagine a scenario where you could leverage LinkedIn APIs in your Outlook, so when you’re receiving an e-mail you can see whether or not you’re connected to that person, you can also see their most recent status updates.

Microsoft’s Style of Forced upon Solutions

Just try DECLINING Windows 10. What MS does then is creepy. So what if it does the same when you try to access LinkedIn data for recruitment without agreeing to buy the bundled offering

Many will wonder just how concerned about its own growth is the tech giant if it has to resort to such a dramatic pivot into social media.

Meanwhile, thousands of job searchers are dreading the first spotting of the following LinkedIn Screen of Death:

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Summing Up

Although every such acquisition comes with user experience hiccups, both LinkedIn and Microsoft benefit most from building on, not changing their existing offerings. There’s nothing to gained, for example, from alienating free users, however, there’s a lot to be gained from earning their loyalty and converting them to paying customers.

A Microsoft-LinkedIn marriage could not only reinvent productivity and business processes. Not sure, how fair or optimistic is this envisaged marriage of cloud business and social networking. Maybe yes, there exist great synergies and Microsoft will certainly make an attempt to change the way the world works