Partners see Microsoft's $26.3 billion acquisition of social media business platform LinkedIn opening the door to tight integration of Microsoft mainstay products like Office 365 and the 433 million-member-strong LinkedIn platform.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Monday that the two companies together will accelerate the growth of the Microsoft's Office 365 productivity platform and Dynamics ERP/CRM software, as well as LinkedIn itself.
Nadella touted LinkedIn's success at engaging professionals, and said the acquisition would be "key to our bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business products."
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Several partners said they see high value for Microsoft in tightly tying Office 365 and Dynamics, as well as other social media services into LinkedIn.
"I think it's a positive thing for Microsoft," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Microsoft partner. "It will give them more value to their products in terms of integrating LinkedIn into CRM, [business intelligence], or Office 365."
David Felton, founder of Lenovo partner Norwalk, Conn.-based Canaan Technology, said LinkedIn's technology has important functions that can be integrated into Office 365.
"I could see Microsoft using the LinkedIn technology as part of Office 365," Felton said. "This could be part of a closed system large enterprise companies can leverage for internal communications."
Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., stressed that LinkedIn's functionality, which is centered on digital professional identity, could be important for Microsoft's product platform.
"If you look at the need to drive CRM sales, and Microsoft being able to integrate LinkedIn's functionality, that is massive," Opal said. "I also think there's a digital identity play here -- LinkedIn merges professional and personal life, and if Microsoft can leverage these capabilities as part of their Office 365 platform, which is on the business life side, that is important for the customer."
The acquisition will also set up Microsoft to target another market it is less familiar with in the enterprise, said Felton: social media.
"Microsoft is aiming to get a social media strategy and it wants to further position itself as … the business expert of social media," Felton said. "Microsoft sees some value in social media -- Google has social media -- so I think LinkedIn makes sense."