Microsoft recently announced its $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn, the largest acquisition the software giant has ever made. Why is Microsoft making such a big bet on LinkedIn? Because in the data-driven economy, information is the most basic unit of value, not currency or bitcoins, and LinkedIn possesses incredibly rich data. This acquisition is further validation of the data-centric nature of today’s economy.
LinkedIn’s 400 million professional members are potential customers for Microsoft’s cloud-based business products, but that’s only part of the story. Like every other company that wants to succeed in an increasingly data-centric environment, Microsoft must find a way to maximize the value of data by combining multiple information sources in unconventional ways to drive better business insights.
This requires a data-centric integration strategy, such as Liaison’s Data Platform as a Service (dPaaS) approach, to improve the quality, timeliness and visibility of data and allow Microsoft to use it creatively. Here are some ways the company might choose to leverage LinkedIn data to its advantage, expanding the combined companies’ value proposition using a dPaaS approach:
- Target ads with greater accuracy: Microsoft now has full access to the career history of LinkedIn members. With Liaison’s cloud-based dPaaS approach, the company could break down internal data silos, combining its industry information with LinkedIn’s career history data and use it to target prospects with relevant ads for business software. For a company with a business-centric product set, having access to potential customers’ detailed career data via dPaaS can be a game-changer.
- Help recruiters find the right employees: With its vast industry dataset, Microsoft can now help recruiters who use LinkedIn leverage additional data at a granular level. By implementing a dPaaS approach to eliminate barriers between data sources across its operating units, Microsoft can provide recruiters with a combined dataset that could better identify the right people among candidates with a common job title (“account executive,” “account manager,” etc.).
- Offer new data products: LinkedIn efficiently presents targeted open jobs, professional contacts, etc., but data integration opens up new possibilities. By consolidating and effectively leveraging data using the Liaison dPaaS solution, Microsoft could build new data products that offer value, such as features that highlight red flags on résumés, identify industry influencers to follow and create predicted salary calculators or employability metrics.
- Integrate LinkedIn data into Microsoft products: By using a Liaison dPaaS strategy to integrate LinkedIn data into the Office suite, Microsoft can allow users who type a name into Word to link that person’s LinkedIn profile, which could have multiple applications in the business world. They can also build in new convenience features, such as enabling auto-fill functions in Outlook using LinkedIn data that is integrated via dPaaS.
- Leverage cross-over relationships: Microsoft owns Skype as well as LinkedIn, and by integrating the data across the companies with a Liaison dPaaS solution, Microsoft can make it easy for people who connect over Skype to easily connect via LinkedIn as well and vice versa, strengthening the user base across operating units.
These are just a few ways Microsoft can increase the value of its newly expanded data streams with a dPaaS integration and data management strategy. It remains to be seen if the acquisition will ultimately be judged a prudent investment, but it’s not too early to identify the key success factor: maximizing data value. There’s a lesson here for other companies that are developing a vision for success in an increasingly data-driven economy. With integration and data management tools, it’s possible to unlock the power of a data-centric approach, and that’s the recipe for business success today — and in the years to come.
Bob Renner, CEO, Liaison