LinkedIn could get UC features following Microsoft acquisition

Analysts believe Microsoft will integrate UC features from Skype for Business into LinkedIn, opening up communications between users of the professional social network.

Microsoft's $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn could bring document sharing, video calling, real-time text messaging, and other Office 365 and Skype for Business features to the professional social network.

The Microsoft-LinkedIn all-cash deal, announced this week, is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. The deal placed Microsoft at the center of the social networking world for business professionals. Following the acquisition, Microsoft could add more collaboration and unified communications (UC) features in LinkedIn through integration with Office 365 and Skype for Business, analysts said.

Today, people talk to each other on LinkedIn, post content and network for jobs, but if Microsoft adds more UC features, then it could make LinkedIn more useful as a site for collaboration between business professionals, according to Ira Weinstein, an analyst with Wainhouse Research LLC, based in Duxbury, Mass.

UC features in LinkedIn could open cross-organizational boundaries

"This could be Microsoft's stepping stone into a multicompany social network, which they don't have today," Weinstein said, adding that a lot of Microsoft products have historically been internally focused. "So much of the business world is companies working with other companies."

Adding Microsoft collaboration and UC features to LinkedIn would make it easier for professionals who work for separate companies to communicate and find personal information that could benefit sales and marketing efforts. Skype for Business and Office 365 would provide LinkedIn users with more contextual information, according to Rob Arnold, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.  

Potentially, a LinkedIn user might be able to initiate a call while viewing information about the person, such as job history, activities and where he or she attended college.

"There are a lot of facets to this, and it could go in a lot of different directions," Arnold said. "Microsoft can add a lot of value to LinkedIn, while adding value to their bottom line."

For Microsoft, they get access to LinkedIn's 433 million members worldwide, who are by and large business professionals. This will make it easier for Microsoft to advertise their products to the right clientele. By comparison, there are more than 7 million Office 365 subscribers, according to Microsoft.

"Microsoft bought a global business directory in that most everyone in the professional world has an account on LinkedIn," said Irwin Lazar, an analyst with Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. "Microsoft's expected integration of Office 365 and Skype for Business into LinkedIn potentially provides the framework for seamless communications and collaboration across organizational boundaries."  

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