LinkedIn’s Sale Shows Us The Value Of Technology-Based Job Matching

Through this acquisition, LinkedIn will get access to machine learning capabilities—something that was missing from its portfolio until now.

We live in a hyperconnected world and Microsoft understands that tapping into this network of connections will light up its enterprise business in never before seen ways. Microsoft’s acquisition of social media network LinkedIn for $26 billion in an all cash deal is a game changer in many ways. While some believe that MS has just bought “one of the world’s most influential, specialised, highly read, constantly-updated digital media companies around”, others believe that data from LinkedIn will help make Cortana—Microsoft’s digital assistant like Apple’s Siri—a truly indispensable work tool. Microsoft’s data-gathering abilities just leap-frogged and with a foothold in social, the company plans to reimagine the recruitment and talent management business a lot more. We take a look at these shifts and what it means for the workplace, HR and jobseekers.

Recruitment & talent management: Through this acquisition, LinkedIn will get access to machine learning capabilities—something that was missing from its portfolio—and allow it to provide customised solutions to corporates to identify trends, match skills with jobs and predict the selection of the right candidates. The buyout has propelled technology-based job matching to the limelight. Incidentally, has already initiated this sort of job-matching solution in India. As India’s 1st job matching portal, makes use of Social Media Cloud and Analytics (SMAC) to match the skill sets to jobs in the mass-hiring segment. The use of technology and the unique pre-screening solutions available enable the portal to analyse behavioural data and predict important indices such as candidate’s intent to join, which were thus far grossly absent from the recruitment processes.

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This value will be crucial for organisations, which right now rely on a mix of many recruitment strategies. As Jeff Weiner said in his email to LinkedIn’s global workforce, “Expanding beyond recruiting and learning & development to create value for any part of an organisation involved with hiring, managing, motivating or leading employees. This human capital area is a massive business opportunity and an entirely new one for Microsoft.”

Empower applications, empower people: Both Microsoft and LinkedIn share a common purpose on empowering people and organisations. Microsoft plans to use LinkedIn data in programs like Outlook, Sharepoint, Skype or Office presentations like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Buying LinkedIn will enable Microsoft to seamlessly integrate with what CEO Jeff Weiner calls the “Economic Graph,” a digital representation of employees, resumes, jobs and even every digital skill necessary to win those jobs. LinkedIn also owns, a training network where you can take classes to learn new skills. Data from both these networks will feed into Microsoft’s machine learning and business intelligence machine to provide them insights that can funnel into business decisions. MS will also use LinkedIn to empower applications like Delve, which is already a part of Office 365.

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Data-sharing & integration at workplace: Microsoft wants to integrated LinkedIn data (433 million users) with Office 365 applications (1.2 billion users). Users will be inclined to keep their professional data up to date, as it would be visible to friends, colleagues and others. On the flip side, if anyone needs to know something about you, all they need to do is check this background. Through the integration, the company will be able to enable new experiences like “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”, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained in an email to employees. The integration will make LinkedIn Newsfeed more personalised that will give you inputs on what you’re working on, your projects and even your meetings.

Cortana, your virtual work assistant: Right now, Cortana provides some basic information such as your calendar and where your next meeting is scheduled etc. Imagine a world where Cortana will be able to give you information on how a business relationship can progress and what information can be used to ensure a more personal connection with your business partner. As you sit down for your meeting, you will get inputs on what to present and even a quick background on whom you are going to talk to. Remember J.A.R.V.I.S. from the movie Iron Man, the artificial intelligence system? Well, it would be like getting your own personal J.A.R.V.I.S.

Read: Digital hunting grounds are changing the way we scope out the job market

Learning & Development: MS plans to integrate, which LinkedIn had acquired last year for $1.5 billion, into Office. This is going to revolutionise the L&D function dramatically as it would mean that users could sign up for advanced and on-demand courses seamlessly. This has a massive potential for HR as they would be able to suggest tailor-made courses to employees and equip them beforehand. According to Microsoft, only 38% of employees believe they have the opportunities for learning and growth at their workplace and the life of useful skills & knowledge has shrunk to less than five years. Most employees like to learn at their own pace and are busy finding out on their own what they need to learn to keep themselves relevant in the job market. Companies might be able to turn this on the head and then channel the L&D efforts through this platform to grow the right kind of skill sets, which has been a major bone of contention for a long time now.

Read: The Lesson to be learnt from the Microsoft Job Cuts

This is Microsoft’s most expensive acquisition to date, but adds only 3% to its annual sales. While CEO Weiner mentioned that LinkedIn will continue to be an independent entity within Microsoft, it remains to be seen if the latter can make this acquisition work. Microsoft’s track record with acquisitions is not great. While Skype and Yammer seemed to have worked out okay, the acquisitions of Nokia and aQuantive both ended up as complete write-offs and its bid for didn’t work out. This acquisition is the Aadhaar of all deals. It promises to create a single unified professional profile for an individual and the right data will surface at the right time whether in an app, Skype, Outlook or some other application. If this works, then ‘work’ as we know it now will undergo an accelerated transformation.

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