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On CRM: Microsoft Deepens Its Dip Into LinkedIn’s Data…But Unfortunately Not Enough

By June 26, 2019No Comments

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

During its recent Business Applications Summit in Atlanta, Microsoft executives announced a bunch of new changes coming for its Dynamics 365 business applications which will part of its Wave 2 updates starting this fall and continuing for the six months or so after.

According to Venture Beat, there will be more artificial intelligence, fraud protection, mixed reality integrations, better analytics, improved natural-language searching and even the introduction of block chain tools. But for users of the company’s CRM offerings, particularly its Dynamics 365 for Sales application, the company’s many new features and enhancements (you can see the complete list here) will also provide its users something that they’ve been demanding for a long time: more access to LinkedIn.

As you probably know, Microsoft purchased the social media platform back in 2016 and has been promising its integration with the company’s Dynamics 365 business applications. The potential opportunities to leverage this information is enticing. LinkedIn is used by most working professionals and includes a wealth of data about their backgrounds, preferences, reading habits, interests and – most importantly – their connections throughout their business worlds. The potential of getting access to this treasure trove and then being able to use it to build relationships makes any sales or marketing person lick their chops.

Well, sales and marketing people: get ready to lick your chops.

Building off of some of its initial integrations, Microsoft’s planned enhancements between the LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 for Sales (called the Microsoft Relationship Sales solution) promises to “empower sellers to drive more personalized and meaningful engagements with buyers.” Sounds good, but how?

For one thing Dynamics 365 for Sales users will be able to more easily send LinkedIn InMails to contacts, leads and other entities right from their Microsoft application while the LinkedIn data is viewed in real time alongside.  For those organizations using the application’s Unified Interface – a common user interface across most devices – InMails from LinkedIn that are sent will be automatically added back into Dynamics for Sales as a past activity for a contact, opportunity, lead or account.

Also, Unified Interface users will be able to stay up to date when their contacts in LinkedIn move around. When the synchronization setting is turned on, users will be notified of job changes of all their owned contacts that are posted on LinkedIn and then contact information can be automatically updated back in Dynamics 365 for Sales. Changes from LinkedIn can also – in some cases – be used to trigger workflows and other automation.

All of this is great stuff. But unfortunately, Microsoft is still keeping the holy grail of LinkedIn’s true power from its users: the ability to dig into its database for marketing. It’s not that they can’t do this because they can. The understandable reason is that turning LinkedIn into nothing more than a purchased database for spammy emails by anyone with a Dynamics 365 would quickly lead to a mass migration of LinkedIn members to something less annoying. As an active user of the social media service I would probably be the first in line to abandon it if that were to occur.

So for now, Dynamics 365 customers will have to settle for better email integration and syncing of contact data with LinkedIn.  Although I’d love to see more, I wouldn’t hold your breath.  Microsoft is trying to figure out how to best leverage LinkedIn’s value without…well…destroying LinkedIn’s value.

NOTE: My company, The Marks Group PC, is a Microsoft partner and implements Dynamics 365, among other products we sell.

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