Microsoft's vision for LinkedIn is about tying its business data into Office and other services

Office 365 integration is the sizzle, analyzing business trends is the steak.

Now that Microsoft’s massive $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn has officially closed, it’s time for the next step: figuring out how its massive store of business information can best be used by Microsoft and its customers. Building upon the company’s integration plan outlined earlier this year, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella laid out a set of plans for short-term integration with LinkedIn (in a blog post on LinkedIn, natch), with advantages for both consumers and business customers.

Perhaps the most interesting will be closer ties between resume functions in Word and in LinkedIn, so that users drafting resumes in Word will be able to update their LinkedIn profiles automatically. Nadella suggests that LinkedIn updates will propagate through Windows 10’s Action Center, and that your LinkedIn identity will be used in Outlook and in Office.

Business customers will be able to benefit from LinkedIn Learning online education, available as a feature of the paid Office 365 subscription. LinkedIn Lookup—a competitor of sorts to Microsoft’s Delve, which aggregates information about your colleagues and contacts—will be integrated into Office 365, Nadella wrote. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator will be tied to Dynamics 365, as an aid to what Nadella called “social selling” to customers.

Finally, there’s the content angle. Interestingly, Nadella said Microsoft plans to open a “business news desk” across its content ecosystem and MSN.com, possibly providing its own branded media content. Unfortunately, there’s a downside, too: “extending the reach of Sponsored Content"—read: advertisements—"across Microsoft properties.” 

Why this matters: Microsoft clearly bought LinkedIn with the goal of adding to its store of digital intelligence, specifically business intelligence. Some of that will bubble up fairly quickly to consumers, such as the Word-LinkedIn integration. But the deeper, more powerful goals involve analyzing business trends and providing Office 365 subscribers the knowledge they need to get their jobs done. That’s more difficult to achieve and measure, but will probably be the true test of whether that $26 billion was worth it in the end. 

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