I have no position in CRM, but I do follow the industry. Here is what I wrote back in July about Microsoft’s successful bid to buy LinkedIn (winning a bidding war that included CRM as a participant).
All of the companies mentions – Microsoft, Salesforce, Facebook, Google – would have been immensely better off had they won this bidding war. Adding a true “professional network” and the associated data to a CRM (MS Dynamics, Salesforce) or a community platform (Facebook, Google+) would instantly add value.
Imagine using a CRM in a sales organization, and as you make a call, you can pull up the LinkedIn profile within the CRM software. Or how much more robust Google+ would be if it could step out of the shadows of Facebook and position itself as the Professional Network… essentially becoming an instant rival to Microsoft’s Skype for Business.
But the clear winner is Microsoft, which had all the pieces to complement LinkedIn. If you use Dynamics as your CRM, Skype for Business as your unified communications platform, an Exhange/outlook as your email/calendar solution, LinkedIn profiles will work seamlessly between those environments, tying everything together and adding a rich layer of information on each person you might contact. Heck, even the Office 365 suite will have tie-ins to LinkedIn… imagine auto-generated ‘author’ pages on every PowerPoint slide deck taken directly from your LinkedIn bio, or footers on every word doc with a link to your LinkedIn profile. The integration points are endless, and range from subtle to profound. Give Microsoft credit for this one. In five years, I think this acquisition will prove to be a real difference maker.
I really believe that Microsoft will begin take serious market share away from CRM once it starts to roll out the integration with LinkedIn. It is a highly competitive business, and Salesforce is a good product, but MSFT has such a HUGE entrenched business base that it has an integration advantage going forward. The market for this kind of product is very fluid right now, and the valuation of CRM as a company is insane, even after adjusting for recurring revenues. If MSFT does succeed even remotely, that valuation will tumble.
Just some thoughts in response to your question.
Tiptree, Fool One guide, no position in CRM or MSFT. Long FB and GOOG. Formerly long LNKD.