What will a LinkedIn integration with Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud products actually look like, and what specific partner opportunities can those combined technologies drive?
Those were the first questions Todd Schwartz started thinking about Monday morning when he learned of Microsoft’s $26.3 billion acquisition of the professional networking leader.
As co-founder and co-CEO of SkyKick, developer of a popular tool for onboarding business customers to Microsoft’s cloud-based office productivity suite, Schwartz has a vested professional interest in the nuts and bolts of how LinkedIn will integrate with Microsoft products and impact the software giant's ecosystem.
"The first thing I tweeted out was, I think this is going to be awesome for our partners to help them sell more Office 365," Schwartz told CRN.
The combination of the leading business productivity suite with the leading business-to-business social network should generate a new stream of inbound sales interest to Office 365 resellers, he said.
But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is almost certainly focused on the potential of extending LinkedIn across Microsoft's entire cloud portfolio, turning the professional networking platform into a "rich, powerful, enterprise network to build new products and services that can be consumed on Azure as well as web products," Schwartz said.
By integrating LinkedIn with Azure, Microsoft could give developers building solutions on its Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud -- companies such as SkyKick -- a powerful set of capabilities that differentiate them in the market, he said.
In addition to the migration tool with which it established its business, SkyKick offers a set of cloud management and data backup services. Like many Microsoft technology partners, the company was busy Monday pondering how it could add-value for customers, and enrich the data those products provide its partners, by leveraging LinkedIn’s network, Schwartz said.
LinkedIn as an Azure service, accessible through APIs, "would really help us innovate in a big way," Schwartz said, noting the potential to build third-party apps targeting human resources, sales and other corporate departments.
But the initial boost that LinkedIn will deliver to Office 365 customers will be the ease of use and efficiency derived from natively embedding the network's extensive repository of professional data and social context into products like the Outlook email client, Dynamics CRM, or even the recently released Planner platform.