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LinkedIn purchase may signal new era of open APIs

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Microsoft's LinkedIn purchase may open up APIs and enable new competitors to take advantage of the treasure trove of social CRM data in LinkedIn.

After Microsoft purchased LinkedIn, the social networking site, for $26.2 billion, questions began swirling about how the deal might affect the competition, particularly CRM providers like Salesforce, SAP and Oracle.

Microsoft's strategy may be to open LinkedIn APIs up to enable greater integration with its competitor CRM applications. But if Microsoft does open up LinkedIn, the move would run counter to events in 2015, when LinkedIn locked down its APIs. LinkedIn limited its integrations to only two major partners, Microsoft and Salesforce, last year, and wants to direct more traffic to LinkedIn itself to generate revenue.

Now, with Microsoft's purchase of LinkedIn, the question becomes whether the platform will open back up, tighten further, edging out Salesforce, or maintain the status quo.

According to Brent Leary, a principal at CRM Essentials, closing up APIs seems unlikely given Microsoft's publicly stated commitment to working with partners to enable a cloud-first, mobile-first series of technologies.

"I would think if they make any move, it would be to open it up to where it was before," Leary says. "Microsoft would get so much flak from the developer community if they closed this off. Nadella seems to be more of an open systems guy."

Industry watchers are also gauging whether the LinkedIn purchase will augment existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM data and also boost adoption of Office 365, which still hover in the low single digits, according to some reports.

"They're going to try to make this as attractive to people who want to make the transition to Office 365," Leary says. "More insights, more machine learning and that should make people want to switch over."

For more, check out the podcast above. Click here for part one, on the impact of the LinkedIn-Microsoft deal on CRM data.

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