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Microsofts uses Outlook to finally leverage it’s LinkedIn acquisition

Microsoft may have won the email client for business users once and for all. In recent releases of various versions of Outlook, on PC, Web, IOS (and I assume Android) they have quietly allowed the email client to directly connect to LinkedIn.

(Mac is behind, still but it will be there no doubt. I am using Web Outlook on my Mac now).

The ability to connect to LinkedIn is missing from almost everything, since LinkedIn, pre even a hint of a Microsoft acquisition, removed all the API’s to access the platform.

So all the online CRM’s and other email clients, openly state that they can’t connect to LinkedIn. In fact only with a very clunky hidden export, of a number of different files, that you join back together, can you loosely import your contacts from LinkedIn.

Now Outlook, without much noise that I noticed, has the ability to do what no one else can. Which brings us back to the point, they may have cleaned up the competition here, unless LinkedIn re-opens all it’s API’s. Certainly won’t be quick to do so without Government pressures, or payments to it’s owners.

Not much of a war, more of an upgrade issue

Not that there a is much of a war for the large corporate email client. A lot of large businesses use Outlook, in various versions, many very old. With Connect Email+ we send a lot of emails on behalf of our clients, and we see all the variations.

Smaller firms though have crept onto Gmail, and MacMail albeit connected to Office365 (me), and some more organised clients than Outlook. And on IOS / Android devices we see a lot more native use. In lockdown though the numbers of mobile Outlook, particularly IOS Outlook users has shot up, as staff are allowed, with inTune supervision to access their corporate emails on their phones.

With this change, plus the lockdown impact on technical platforms, many companies will now be pushed by their staff to move to later releases of Office, or even move to Outlook if not being used for the LinkedIn integration. This adds to the arguments I put out on the impact of the lockdown on IT standards at major corporates (see here). This Outlook to LinkedIn integration is another push to upgrade Office in the large corporates, and even implement in smaller firms not using the Office365 platform for emails today.

What’s the benefit?

The integration to LinkedIn is a big win for those of us who utilise LinkedIn for keeping in contact with work friends, associates, colleagues and some guys you met at the last industry conference (remember those….).

Once you allow Outlook to connect to your LinkedIn, a permissions setting, then you are set.

For anyone in the Inbox you are connected to on their profile on LinkedIn you can see their profile in-line.

Or if not connected, you can search for suggestions in-line if you want, browse them and send a connection request from outlook.

In effect you can see immediately if you remembered to “do the LinkedIn thing” with someone you are in contact with.

You can also wander down your Contacts list and use the LinkedIN tab, not flicking to back a forth to search on LinkedIn, to see what Charlie is doing now, right there in the same tool. And you can see who you didn’t connect to, browse a set of suggested names, and directly send invites. And if their email matches and they are two degrees away, no more manually typing in their email address. Your contact knows it.

Calendar now “knows” the people you are meeting with, and not only nudges you to remind the meeting, but reminds you who you are meeting with.

Connecting to someone on LinkedIn is a great business orientated way of keeping in touch with people, and knowing when they move, get promoted, if they read your latest strange post etc.

Having the ability for you to see LinkedIn messages in the LinkedIn platform to those Connections in your contacts, is also excellent. Many relationships start, or re-start, on LinkedIn, and that whole history of the conversation has always been in two separate places. Now it is in one.

Conclusion

This is a massive step forward for Outlook and LinkedIn, and will undoubtedly give many of us pause for thought not only on their email clients, but also  on the CRM systems we currently use. As to how close this brings us from just dropping those CRM’s we will see over time.

My preferred CRM  tool integrates to Office365 when it sends, so I can see all the campaigns in Outlook anyway, so less of an issue. Many CRMs however are standalone, and can’t see LinkedIn beyond the export fuss mentioned earlier.

I can only see Microsoft strengthening this LinkedIn connection, and tying in Dynamics features, into LinkedIn as upgrade options. You can see some of these in Sales Navigator, which I am having a look at on a trial basis at the moment.

Bringing LinkedIn from a standalone, although widely used service, to one integrated in Office 365, with better CRM tools, is a stroke of genius from Microsoft. And it’s not often, if ever, you have heard me say that !!!

worldflow will watch this space with interest, to see how we link Connect Research platforms into this flow, because I can see that this will be a good thing for us to be integrated into as it develops.

 

Feel free to ask for views and happy to get feedback.

 

 

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