Yesterday's announcement that Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn caught almost everyone off guard. I think it is a brilliant move for Microsoft - in one transaction they become a serious player in the social network space. Despite attempts by Microsoft to make Skype into a quasi social network that plan failed miserably. The acquisition of Yammer in 2012 was also a miserable non-starter that went no where. So LinkedIn adds serious credibility to Microsoft's position as a key player in the workplace.
I think one of the most important benefits for Microsoft in this acquisition is the "self maintaining" nature of LinkedIn data. Yes, there are thousands of records that are stale where folks haven't updated their profile but the majority of LinkedIn users pretty much update their employer and job role as their 2nd activity (following setting up Outlook on their new work laptop). This can provide Microsoft with a stream of (mostly) accurate insight about companies and people.
Here's where some speculating on my part comes in. I have seen in recent releases of Dynamics a renewed commitment to bring that platform forward from it's formerly stale position in the Gartner CRM Magic Quadrant. Imagine a salesperson opening up an account in Dynamics and being able to see the public LinkedIn profiles of all the relevant executives from that account. As either a one off, or as part of a subscription offering you can send an InMail to those executives. Now extend that perspective into the opportunities tab in Dynamics. If one of the contacts associated with an opportunity changes employers (leaving the opportunity) the owner could get an alert letting them know they have to dig for a new contact.
Where this could get very interesting is when you combine Dynamics and Marketo. Imagine seeing LinkedIn data through Dynamics into Marketo where leads in Marketo can be targeted in programs because of LinkedIn data. Think about where Marketo Sales Insights might go as an iPad/tablet app with 3 engagement scores based on a lead's engagement with marketing content, the lead's engagement with sales delivered content, and an overall account engagement score based on relevant LinkedIn posts by people within that account on topics relevant to your business.
The landscape of data enrichment and social networks was destined to collide at some point, and I believe that is exactly what Microsoft is going to do with the LinkedIn acquisition.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on where you potentially see this going for Dynamics/Marketo users!