By Ron Miller
Microsoft announced some significant integrations between LinkedIn, the professional social network it bought last year for over $26 billion and Microsoft Dynamics 365, the company’s CRM and ERP suite.
It was clear that when Microsoft paid that much money for LinkedIn, it had plans to use that data in other Microsoft products. Those ideas began to emerge last summer with some Office 365 integration announcements, but now we are starting to see some direct links (if you’ll pardon the expression) to try and leverage LinkedIn as a kind of lead generation and recruitment engine for Microsoft’s enterprise products.
The announcement includes two major pieces. First of all, the company is linking Dynamics 365 and the LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool to give sales people access to its database of 500 million users.
Microsoft is also announcing a tool for HR pros called Dynamics 365 for Talent, which gives Dynamics 365 ERP users, the ability to search for new talent directly from LinkedIn’s Recruiter and Learning solutions, and manage employees from recruitment throughout their time with company.
Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft points out in a blog post announcing the new integrations that there are already connections between Dynamics 365 and Office 365 products. The next logical step it would seem would be to build similar connections to LinkedIn, especially for sales. “Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 will dramatically increase the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships, giving them the ability to improve their pipeline…,” Guthrie wrote.
Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research says this opens the door to social selling where you can track connections between people at your company and the target company. He offers an example to illustrate the concept:
“How do you find out who knows whom inside a company? Traverse your Office 365 data, your [Dynamics 365] CRM database and your LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and you realize Joe and Abdul have known each other since university days. Let’s put Abdul on the sales call,” Wang explained.
He says this solves a long-known problem where companies were trying to kludge together solutions to make these different technologies work together. Now, Microsoft is doing it for them.
“Microsoft has been focused on integrating its acquisitions and the LinkedIn to Dynamics 365 [to] Office 365 is the latest [iteration]. Customers already use these three products in disparate fashion spending time doing arm chair integration. What they’ve been looking for is the ability to take the data and insights in these three products and put them to work,” he said. This announcement should give them that.
Certainly finding talent and recruiting has also been a major use case for LinkedIn well before Microsoft bought the company, and the new Talent tool is about providing a direct integration with Microsoft’s HR management functionality in Dynamics 365. The new tool provides the ability for HR to source, recruit, onboard and retain employees while taking advantage of the data and tools inside LinkedIn, according the blog post.
Brent Leary, a partner at CRM Essentials sees this integration as a starting point that could become more automated down the road. “I think generally this is a good first step in bringing LinkedIn and Dynamics 365 together and it hints at the potential LinkedIn-Dynamics 365-artificial intelligence has for sales folks looking for automated relationship insights,” Leary told TechCrunch.