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Microsoft Connects LinkedIn To Dynamics 365

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Dynamics 365 users will be able to draw on LinkedIn sales data in the first fruit of Microsoft’s £20bn acquisition of the social network

Microsoft is to give users of its Dynamics 365 sales tool direct access to LinkedIn’s database of 500 million people, in the first major feature to spring from the company’s $26 billion (£20bn) acquisition of the business social network last year.

Microsoft, which trails rivals Salesforce.com, Oracle and SAP in the sales software market, said it will allow a Dynamics 365 salesperson to assess their relationship with a customer via LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool.

AI-powered links

The feature will use artificial intelligence to suggest ways of strengthening the user’s position on a deal, for instance bringing in a colleague who is connected to the potential customer on LinkedIn.

“Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 will dramatically increase the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships, giving them the ability to improve their pipeline,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft, in a blog post announcing the feature.

The company is also to allow Dynamics 365 users to search for new staff using LinkedIn’s Recruiter and Learning features, Guthrie said.

LinkedIn Logo
Both of the new features are set to become available in July.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said he sees such features drawing on LinkedIn’s massive database of user data as key to developing Microsoft’s cloud-based business software in the face of stiff competition.

‘Third cloud’

“I think that’s the only way to long-term change this game, because if all we did was replace somebody else’s (sales), or (finance) application, that’s of no value, quite frankly,” he told Reuters.

He said Microsoft sees its cloud-based tools for specialised areas including sales and finance as a “third cloud”, complementing Office 365 and the computing and database platform Azure.

As yet that vision largely remains to be realised, however – Microsoft controlled only 4.3 percent of the sales software market in 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to Gartner.

The company is under pressure to justify its outlay for LinkedIn and industry observers noted that the new features may be appealing, since users are already using the social network’s data with their sales software on an ad-hoc basis.

LinkedIn Bluetooth sharing shock

Separately, a Bluetooth-powered LinkedIn feature Microsoft said it is experimenting with caused concern amongst computer security professionals when it appeared to be over-sharing mobile users’ data.

cloud data protectionResearcher Rik Ferguson spotted an alert that told him the LinkedIn mobile app wanted to “make data available to nearby Bluetooth devices even when you’re not using the app”.

He posted a screenshot of the prompt with the message, “LinkedIn would like to WHAT?!”

He said the pop-up message appeared after he installed an update described as offering only “general bug fixes and performance improvements”.

Other users said they had received the same message on both Android and iOS versions of the app, and Ferguson said he received it on three smartphones that had received the update.

Microsoft responded that the opt-in feature is experimental and said a prompt “went out in error to a small group of LinkedIn members” using iOS devices.

The company said it was “working on a fix” and Ferguson noted the prompts disappeared following a subsequent update to the app.

Security firm Sophos said it recommends switching off services such as Bluetooth and near-field communications (NFC) when they’re not in use and putting devices into “not discoverable” mode when possible.

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