Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has not gone into its $26.2 billion decision to acquire LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) without having a detailed plan for integrating the company deeply into its portfolio of products.
In fact, just after the company announced the all-cash deal, which is the biggest in its history, CEO Satya Nadella and other Microsoft executives conducted a conference call with analysts in which they laid out some of Microsoft's plans for the company. In addition to noting that the business/work-related social media company will continue to operate independently and that its CEO, Jeff Weiner, would retain that position, reporting to Nadella, the executives talked about the synergies that could be created. In addition, Nadella wrote an email to employees that raised some possibilities as to what might happen
The call, which was accompanied by a presentation, expanded on a comment Nadella made in the press release announcing the deal.
"The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world's professionals," Nadella said in the press release. "Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet."
But what are some specifics of that bold goal?
It's partly about the cloud
Microsoft sells cloud services, as do a number of its chief rivals. One of the problems of being in that space is that it's essentially a commodity, which makes winning at anything other than price a challenge.
"This deal brings together the world's leading professional cloud with the world's leading professional network," wrote Nadella in his email. "I have been learning about LinkedIn for some time while also reflecting on how networks can truly differentiate cloud services. It's clear to me that the LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business and an impressive network of more than 433 million professionals."
Essentially, Microsoft believes it can leverage the connection some of those users have with LinkedIn to get them to use the company's cloud products. Nadella does not say it quite that directly, but it's clear what he's implying.
Cortana is coming
It's fair to say that Microsoft's voice/digital assistant, Cortana, remains a work in progress, which can really be said about the entire category. That said, the company envisions Cortana as being integrated into all its products, including LinkedIn, where in theory it could act like a sort of digital personal secretary.
"Today Cortana knows about you, your organization, and about the world," the company wrote in the presentation. "In the future, Cortana will also know about your entire professional organization to connect dots on your behalf so you stay one step ahead."
In an example next to that write-up, the company showed Cortana not only telling someone about who her next meeting is with, but also sharing details about the person being met. In addition it suggests the digital assistant could let the user know about mutual friends, and even shared interests.
LinkedIn can help Microsoft know you better
In the presentation, Microsoft introduced the idea that LinkedIn profiles, which contain a person's resume, as well endorsements, school information, and more, could also be made visible in Office, Outlook, and Skype.
"Today there is no one source of truth for an individual profile -- the data is scattered across many endpoints often with outdated or incomplete information," the company wrote. "In the future, a professional's profile will be unified and the right data at the right time will surface in an app, whether Outlook, Office, Skype, or elsewhere."
That's a smart play because by the nature of it being a professional network which people use for jobs, it would make sense that their LinkedIn profiles would be more up to date than those used on other social media sites.
It's about getting things done
Nadella wrote in his email that Microsoft and LinkedIn are pursuing a common mission to empower people and organizations. He mentioned part of his company's "bold ambition" is to "reinvent productivity and business processes." He clearly believes that this acquisition helps it do that.
"How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world," he wrote. "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. "
The CEO suggested that one way that might work would be leveraging what Microsoft's products know about a person to deliver more targeted experiences in their LinkedIn news feed. He suggested that might include serving 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."
Those are just initial thoughts and Nadella expects the effectiveness of the marriage of Microsoft and LinkedIn's knowledge of its users to become better over time.
"As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow," he wrote. "And in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetization through individual and organization subscriptions and targeted advertising."