Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn sees the tech company branch out into human capital management. What does it mean for HR professionals looking at LinkedIn recruitment?
The purchase of the world’s biggest professional networking service LinkedIn by tech giant Microsoft – for a cool $26.2 billion – heralds the company’s move into human resources.
LinkedIn and Microsoft both have huge amounts of data about their customers that can now be combined and used to offer new services and products.
The rationale behind the purchase makes sense for both sides: Microsoft gets access to a new customer base in the form of LinkedIn’s 433 million users, all of whom are new leads for its business. Adding to its appeal, LinkedIn has seen a 49 per cent increase in mobile users over the past year.
For LinkedIn’s part, it’s no secret that the company has harboured ambitions to grow into a human capital management software business, but it has been slow to diversify. Microsoft will inject more resources and enable LinkedIn to compete with the other giants of big data, such as Google.
King of work
There’s little doubt that Microsoft wants to position itself as king of work, and data is fundamental to that aim. Data is power and LinkedIn provides the missing part of the jigsaw puzzle. Microsoft already has professional tools for emails and documents, but now it will also have LinkedIn’s information, such as job history, current employer, past work experience, education – all the traditional data set that was missing from traditional customer relationship management (CRM).
Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, who has helped to reinvigorate the company since he took over two years ago, says: “It’s not simply customer relationship management; it is CRM with social selling. And it’s not just about human capital management (HCM), it is HCM with talent management, telemanagement solutions and recruiting from LinkedIn.”
Nadella gave an example of how the two businesses can work together. He described a customer arriving at a meeting scheduled on a Microsoft Outlook calendar integrated with LinkedIn. The customer might receive notification that one of the people in the meeting attended the same university as a colleague, enabling a more intimate level of connection.
“How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market, get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world,” said Nadella.
“It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics. This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on, and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.”
Workforce under the microscope
Integration will also give organisations a deeper look into the skills and effectiveness of a workforce using Microsoft products. And LinkedIn’s online training software, Lynda.com, can leverage much from Microsoft’s products such as mini modules on how to complete tasks that have been assigned by a project manager.
But there is unease over the deal among LinkedIn’s key customer base: recruiters. They fear the implications for LinkedIn recruitment of Microsoft controlling an individual’s professional information. These have been assuaged somewhat by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who is staying in his role. He says that LinkedIn will remain relatively independent from Microsoft in the same way that YouTube relates to parent Alphabet Inc, or Instagram from parent Facebook Inc. Although how long that lasts is open to question.
The upside, such as access to ‘hidden’ talent, might be the deciding factor in winning over a sceptical recruitment profession. At the end of the day, it’s the results that count.