HEAD IN THE CLOUDS: Week 2


Man with clouds for a head and wearing a bowler hat

It is hard to stay on top of the latest news, events and rumblings tied to cloud computing and the cloud vendors responsible for it.  For many of us, our memories are not what they use to be, making it even harder to keep up.  Here are a few conversational topics that have come up recently, along with my thoughts, perspectives and observations:

Microsoft’s LinkedIn Purchase Paying Off

Microsoft continues to look for new ways to bring additional value (perceived or real) to its enterprise customers to hopefully further motivate adoption of their LinkedIn Business Solutions, whether it be one or a combination of the following solutions:

  • Talent (LinkedIn Recruiter, LinkedIn Jobs, LinkedIn Career Pages)
  • Marketing (LinkedIn Ads, Campaign Manager, LinkedIn Pages)
  • Sales Solutions (Sales Navigator – Professional, Team or Enterprise)
  • Learning (LinkedIn Learning with Lynda.com content)

Increased and ramped adoption of any of these LinkedIn Business Solutions not only brings additional revenue and further expansion within their customer base (Land and Expand), it also shows their LinkedIn acquisition was worth the $26B they paid, or at least it starts to.

Microsoft’s most recent attempt to further motivate adoption through additional value comes in the form of making two integrations between LinkedIn and Microsoft Office 365 available to more users. These integrations were actually announced at Microsoft’s annual conference, Ignite, last year.  Specifically, most (not all) of Microsoft Office 365 users can now do two things:

  • They can get information about a particular contact directly from the contact’s LinkedIn profile simply by hovering over a contact’s name in Outlook (online) and in OneDrive and SharePoint.
  • They can send direct emails and share documents with connections they have in LinkedIn from Outlook (online), OneDrive, SharePoint, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Online. All the user must do is insert the connections name in the “To” or “CC” field when typing a message or sharing a document.

If you are an enterprise customer, expect Microsoft to push for meetings to discuss how their LinkedIn Business Solutions, most likely all of them, would be of value and worth considering.  Expect the meeting — should you take it — and the marketing materials you receive, to include a significant amount of attention to the power of these integrations and the value they would bring.

Zendesk Ramping Up Efforts to Compete Better Against Salesforce  

Zendesk has been focused on creating new cloud products to better compete against cloud giants like Salesforce and grab more enterprise customers.  This makes perfect sense as only about 40% of Zendesk’s current revenue comes from enterprise customers and there is a lot of money to be had.

If Zendesk is going to have any shot at competing against the likes of Salesforce, they realize they need to create compelling new cloud product offerings.  By focusing their attention and dollars (Zendesk currently spends roughly 20% of their revenue on R&D) towards developing new cloud product offerings that are more likely to get the attention of enterprise customers they seek, they know they will have the best opportunity to:

  • Expand within their current enterprise customer base and reduce the likelihood of Salesforce swooping in and taking these customers away;
  • Compete better in the market when they go head-to-head with Salesforce;
  • Ensure they are far less reliant on their core offering, Zendesk Support. Revenue from Support accounts for roughly 85% of its total revenue.

Zendesk recently released the following new cloud products:

  • Sell (a sales force automation tool developed with tech they got after purchasing FutureSimple);
  • Explore (a new analytics solution that integrates data from every channel), and
  • Sunshine (a CRM platform built on AWS that is available as part of Zendesk Enterprise).

It will be interesting to see how many new enterprise customers Zendesk is able to grab and how many wins they will be able to report against cloud giants like Salesforce.

It would also not surprise me to see Google Cloud make a move in the near future to acquire Zendesk. Perhaps, Salesforce may even be interested.

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