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Can Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn change the learning and training industries

This week Microsoft surprised everyone by announcing it is buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash. The learning and training industries will feel this.

“This deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. At first glance the goal is to create a mutually beneficial relationship. A relationship that entails new user experiences, including a LinkedIn newsfeed that delivers articles based on your current projects and suggestions from Microsoft Office for connections with experts via LinkedIn.

But wait, there’s more. It goes beyond recommending you who to connect with. For one, both companies will be able to improve their targeted advertising. But Nadella also expects new opportunities to accelerate LinkedIn’s growth while bringing value to its members with Microsoft’s products.

One company, different goals

That’s Microsoft’s point of view. LinkedIn is looking at things from a different angle.

Integrating the and LinkedIn Learning solution in Office can transform learning and development, said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, in an email to his employees explaining why he sold the company. “Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn’s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works”.

Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM, which currently competes with Salesforce, will connect with LinkedIn Sales Navigator to transform the sales process with insights and tools to help sellers build deeper relationships with customers through social selling. “LinkedIn could really become a really big competitor for Salesforce going forward.” said Anurag Rana, a senior analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, in an article on Bloomberg.

Two-thirds of LinkedIn’s revenue comes from the Talent Solutions services of the professional social network. They outweigh the premium subscriptions and the marketing solutions combined.

“LinkedIn has a unique advantage in the education space, in that they are the only place where hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily giving their longitudinal job and education history—which allows potentially for some unique analysis of what programs and courses or certifications actually lead to improved career paths,” says education consultant Michael Feldstein to Quartz.

Also, Feldstein notes that Microsoft could go for the domination of the corporate training market which is very fragmented at the moment. But, the company itself hasn’t shown indications of such intentions. This doesn’t mean though that it won’t do something in the space. For now, nothing really changes, but the opportunities are there and are big.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Mike Mozart