Back in the Game

Microsoft’s $26.2 billion LinkedIn acquisition is big news for professionals everywhere, as nearly all of us have a profile on their site, but it’s especially significant for the Customer Success sector of the market and Customer Success professionals in particular. This acquisition in particular heralds the beginning of the Customer Success Platform war. Let me explain why.

Today, our workdays are split between the tools workers use to get their jobs done, like Microsoft’s Office programs, and the professional networks that connect workers, like LinkedIn. Now that all of this user data can be aggregated under one roof, Microsoft has swiftly become relevant again. In his article posted today on LinkedIn, Anshu Sharma from Storm Ventures makes the argument that by acquiring LinkedIn, Microsoft gains “a new source of data for machine learning & AI, a new network for Skype, & the opportunity to go after CRM, HR, and productivity app markets with a unique asset.”

A Battle Royale

This puts Microsoft in a prime position to battle it out with Salesforce in the Customer Success Platform war. According to Gartner’s 2015 CRM market share report, Salesforce is the leader in the CRM market with an 18.4% market share, as opposed to Microsoft’s 6.2% market share. In the past, there have been many rumors about Linkedin entering the CRM market, and since “Microsoft already knows a lot about your work — your email, your calendar, your Skype calls & conferences, your Sharepoint intranet …all great sources of data about who you work with, when and how” LinkedIn’s business model as an aggregator of professional data makes them uniquely positioned to enter the fray.

Back in his 2014 Techcrunch post, Infer’s Vik Singh discussed LinkedIn’s ambition to extend its Sales Navigator product into CRM world. Through this lens, this acquisition makes perfect sense. Salespeople who use Microsoft’s Dynamics customer relationship management program will know more about potential targets, including their background, co-workers, and other business contacts, “turning cold calls into warm prospects.” This same transparency can be leveraged by Customer Success professionals to understand which events are occurring in their accounts as well.

Let’s Connect on Windows

With this acquisition, Microsoft has jumped into the CRM deep end with the big guns. We look forward to experiencing the advances that will occur as a result of this new partnership.