With LinkedIn, Microsoft Will Know Us All Too Well
I’m sure you can agree that knowledge of your customer is one the most valuable commodities for your business.
Most likely this is the true reasoning behind Microsoft’s agreement to buy LinkedIn for $26 billion USD. (by the way, that’s 150% of what LinkedIn stock was worth)
LinkedIn’s Value is its Knowledge of You
LinkedIn’s web interface and revenue is certainly no Facebook. It’s a money-losing social network. It’s 2016 forecast earning looked bleak.
The true value of LinkedIn for Microsoft is that it allows Microsoft to improve its products (Office 365 and Dynamics) through increased customer knowledge.
John Battelle once explained that Google owns your “database of intentions”, because your search reveals what you are seeking. Similarly, Facebook owns your “database of affinity”, because it has your catalogue of likes. With LinkedIn, Microsoft will now know your work.
The Race to Know You Better
The value of LinkedIn is that increasingly, a skilled workforce is on it. So too are their connections.
After the acquisition, if you are active on LinkedIn then Microsoft will know everything about you at work. It will know your colleagues, your work history, and your unique skill set.
With Office 365, Microsoft will know what you are creating in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. If you use Outlook, it will know who you are emailing and what you are talking about with them.
With a little bit of A.I., it is well within Microsoft’s grasp to understand your complete working life. So what will Microsoft do with this knowledge?
Perhaps noble, they will do nothing with that knowledge. However, following industry trends Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella suggests that is not the case.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Email to Employees on the Acquisition of LinkedIn
In her email to employees, Nadella, states:
This combination [LinkedIn and Microsoft] will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves 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. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow. And in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetisation through individual and organisation subscriptions and targeted advertising.”
Nadella later goes on to talk of an appealing CRM system that could compete with Salesforce. However, as the above shows, she explicitly mentions making experts available inside Word. Hmmm. Does anyone remember the previous Microsoft Office assistant Clippy?
And of course, a social networking platform would not be complete without eerily targeted advertising based on what you are working on in your own time and ‘privacy’.
Will Your Privacy Be Effected?
With what Nadella proposes above, things look interesting to say the least.
Perhaps Microsoft will slowly roll out change. Privacy policies are increasingly fluid to change, as Facebook and Snapchat have clearly shown. Do you read the T&C’s every time you update your Facebook app?
Nothing is ‘Free‘
Remember, instead of handing over money we pay for services such as LinkedIn via our privacy. Inherently, this is linked to targeted ads. This trend will only increase.
There is a process to grieving the loss of your privacy. First there is denial. Then you get angry about it. Then you try to make a deal about it. Then you get sad. Finally, you just accept it because it is what it is.
Of course, there is always an option. You do not have to use a service if you do not want to.