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Microsoft buys Linkedin: Will there be a new HR Tech Powerhouse?

In a move that seemed to surprise a lot of people, Microsoft announced this morning they would be acquiring Linkedin. But why would this be a surprise?  Both companies have been hinting towards this for years.  We just didn’t know the “who”.  Read the email to the team announcing it here

Microsoft has been dipping the toes in enterprise hr technology.

Since the early 2010’s, we have heard a little about the AX 2012 HR Module…but not much.  It never really competed the way the larger enterprise products did.  Microsoft has a well known brand and a number of enterprise and mid-market clients, but the technology wasn’t…ready.

Microsoft has been acquiring other HR Related products

Dating back to its 2011 acquisition of Skype (Video Interviewing) and its 2012 acquisition of Yammer, (Social Collaboration) Microsoft as been scooping up products that would help create a robust, modern, social first style of HR solution.

Since then, it has also bought Marketing Pilot (Marketing Automation, CRM), Pando Networks (P2P Sharing – Would fit into an LMS),  Netbreeze (Social Analytics), Capptain (Mobile App Development), Aorato (Machine Learning),  Incent Games (Gamification), VoloMetrix (Organizational analytics), MileIQ (Mileage tracking app), Metanautix (Big Data), Teacher Gaming (LMS), and many many more.

Linkedin has been acquiring other HR Related products. 

While most people know Linkedin as the “professional” social network – anyone inside a sales,  talent acquisition team or human resource department knows it is an highly used tool on the business side.   It has had a few dips over the recent past but remains the most solid offering according to most recruiters.  The talent acquisition technology can rival many crm’s for sourcing, especially now the API has been shut down.  But while we all know of the recruiting buy Linkedin has…it has also been amassing a number of vendors over the last few years – most notably Lynda – an elearning product they bought in 2015 – granting potential entry into LMS, Sales and Recruiting departments.

They have also acquired, Connected (Social CRM),  Slideshare (Social content sharing), Bright (Job Matching), Fliptop (Predictive matching) and most recently Connectifier (Recruiting).

Combined (And with effort, humility, AND an engagement and performance acquisition) this could be big.

Both brands have an established user base that is already spending significant amounts of money with them.  If they can look at the ability of all all these acquisitions to create a frankenstein solution that looks and feels more unified than a quick slap together job would do – this could have a major impact on hr technology as an industry and bring some competition to a group of enterprise players that haven’t seen new blood in a while.

The fear is the size of the organizations and sheer number of various technologies that would have to be combined would hold it back or come out with something lackluster.   Linkedin has felt weighted down and clunky for over a year.  The mobile site has never really worked right. The emails never take you to where you want to go.  Microsoft has a solid process and structure and is not trying to be a hot startup in silicon valley.  On the flip side, they always seems to be behind on attempts to change things, like the parents trying to fit in with the high school kids.

Maybe the process and structure at Microsoft combined with the innovation and why not attitude of Linkedin will combine to make something pretty amazing.

 

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Sarah Brennan

Sarah Brennan is a recognized HCM industry analyst and advisor focused on improving the impact of technology on people, business and the future of work.  Sarah Brennan has been named a top global influencer in HR Technology by more than 50 publications and shared her insights at speaking engagements around the world. As Chief Advisor at Accelir, she partners with HR Technology vendors and investors as an advisor, interim CxO role and on engagements focused on growth strategies, product roadmap & market education/evangelism. She also works with corporate teams enhancing talent strategies.

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