I’m sure Microsoft brought LinkedIn with a specific purpose in mind although it wouldn’t be the first time they know something is good, buy it and they figure out what to do with it!
It sometimes reminds me of some of the mega-rich English Premier League clubs who buy in talent that have very little to do with the current style of play, sit them on the bench and wait for a situation to arise when it becomes clear why they brought them in the first place – or just serendipity!
I would like to think that Microsoft see the future value of collaboration around new ways of working is not to just support the current hierarchies and structures of an organisation. In essence that’s what most of O365 does in supporting this structure of group working around file uploads, storage, document production etc. All important stuff but does nothing to drive innovation and new wealth / value creation.
Where the value creation comes is from building networks, relationships and communities, nurturing new behaviours and processes and blending diversity to create new ways of working.
Yammer and Delve begin to achieve this inside the organisation and adding something like LinkedIn gives an organisation the opportunity to source content, connections and resources far beyond their current network.
I’m thinking of an example where a project manager can initiate a new project and Yammer / Delve (whatever these channels would be called in the future) to source ideas, content, connections and resources from within the organisation and then get seamless connectivity to a LinkedIn type resource (professional and educational) to source gaps or enhancements to the knowledge they have within the organisation. It changes not just the potential reach but also the relationships organisations have with professionals. It would also increase the diversity of thought that an organisational begins to call upon, ideally making it far more social, transparent, agile and democratic.