We all woke up Monday morning to the stunning news that LinkedIn had agreed to be purchased by Microsoft for $26.2 Billion. As a Dynamics CRM user and partner with a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn my first thoughts were “How will this help Dynamics CRM Online vs Salesforce.com?” I’ve rolled a few scenarios around in my head and here are three that I have come up with.

But first, why the love hate relationship with LinkedIn? Mostly because LinkedIn has spent the last few years trying to monetize the data submitted by its users. Now LinkedIn has every right to do that – but as a user, I found less and less value in spending time on the site. The excitement of discovery seemed to be gone. With the Microsoft purchase, LinkedIn data can be monetized in so many other ways. I hope that many of the current barriers to free sharing of info on LinkedIn will start to go away.

So here is how I see this acquisition playing out:

  1. LinkedIn continues as is as a free service
  2. LinkedIn professional subscriptions become included as part of an Office 365 subscription or for a small additional cost – less than $5 per month. With the huge Office 365 subscription base LinkedIn adds millions of new professional users. Office 365 users will be able to sync and automatically update contact information in Outlook against the vast data stored in LinkedIn.
  3. LinkedIn data becomes integrated directly from within Dynamics CRM 2017. Perhaps included as part of the professional subscription ($65 per user per month) or for an additional monthly cost.  Salespeople will have access to LinkedIn data from within Leads, Contacts, and Accounts. From within any of these records, you will be able to take advantage of the connections in LinkedIn. Let’s say you have a new Lead but cannot find the Sales Manager at the company. From within the lead record, you will be able to view and filter lists of contacts at the company, and automatically create, sync, and update records within CRM. I’d also like to see a dashboard with the latest news and updates about the companies and contacts I follow on LinkedIn, as well as the ability to send InMail from within CRM records.

There are many other scenarios that Microsoft can explore to monetize its investment in LinkedIn. I look at this purchase as a way to give Dynamics CRM an advantage over Salesforce. My biggest fear? That Satya Nadella will offer Salesforce users the same level of integration with LinkedIn that I propose for Dynamics CRM.

So what are your thoughts? How else can Microsoft utilize its new Social Data company?