Cloud, Meet Network. Play Nice You Guys…

Cloud, Meet Network. Play Nice You Guys…

Yesterday, after months of negotiation, software giant Microsoft announced that it will acquire professional social networking site LinkedIn for $6.2B in cash. The acquisition, Microsoft’s largest ever, combines its more than 1.2 billion users of Office and other cloud-based offerings with LinkedIn’s 433 million-plus members.

In an investment scenario, the deal might have done little more than cash out your deflated LinkedIn stock and add a few shares of Microsoft stock. But if you’re an IT services provider, the deal is likely to be much more lucrative. Here are four things MSPs need to know about the Microsoft/LinkedIn deal.

Cloud and Proud

The acquisition is a brilliant mash-up of the professional cloud and the professional network. It refuels Satya Nadella’s “cloud first, mobile first” strategy by bringing it to the masses; bringing cloud to the masses will accelerate cloud use. As an MSP, this is an undeniable sign that cloud is the direction to go for future profitability. Also, 60% of LinkedIn users are on mobile, and Microsoft Office has been downloaded 340 million times on Android and iOS devices. If you’re not already thinking about ways to leverage mobile cloud for your customers, your competition might well be a step ahead of you. Finally, through this acquisition, Microsoft is potentially moving its Office applications from a set of productivity tools to a cloud service across any platform and device. This is the future, folks, and it’s unfolding right in front of us. MSPs should be thinking cloud-first and platform-agnostic in order to prepare for a host of lucrative services.

Reinvent Sales

Microsoft is positioning itself to reinvent ways to make professionals more productive. At the same time, this is an opportunity to reinvent your sales and marketing. Essentially, your business can increase its efficiency—and its bottom line—by making salespeople out of non-salespeople. Microsoft will no doubt make LinkedIn’s news feed smarter, since your Office calendar will know what’s coming up on your schedule. And the feed might serve up articles based on the projects you’re working on. Imagine you’re working on a project about increasing cloud revenue, and this article pops up! What if Cortana tells you all the things you need to know before you walk into a sales meeting because it has access to that person’s professional profile? Streamlining your sales process is always a goal, but Microsoft and LinkedIn together could provide powerful ways to enhance the abilities of your team.

Prospect Like a Rock Star

Prospecting for sales leads is one of the more time-consuming, only partially-rewarding aspects of running a business. But soon, this could be a process vastly more integrated with other tasks. Microsoft's Outlook.com alone has 400 million active users, and combined with LinkedIn’s depth of contact network and professional details, this could create a powerful match for prospecting. You could get to know your audience more deeply, and better connect them to services that fit.

Rally Your Customers

Microsoft wants to create a new platform for work that makes it easier for employees to collaborate. And LinkedIn, with its profiles, groups, and connections, is an ideal complement to this. The Office software suite could have LinkedIn's training courses on programs like Excel, Word and PowerPoint baked in, giving you and your customers an edge for learning and productivity. LinkedIn might also bolster recruiting, advertising, and sales programs through Microsoft's extensive business and consumer connections, so there are big changes on the horizon for improvements to hiring. In short, the entirety of your professional life might be enhanced and more empowered, where you are acquiring new skills and being more successful than ever before.

So, IT services providers take note, because as cloud meets network the impact on your business could be profound.

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