Higher education consultants say the Microsoft and LinkedIn pairing may change the competency game.

LinkedIn has the user data and focus on competency-based employment skills and career advancement. Microsoft has the computational ability to turn CBE into an HR goldmine. So will the Microsoft and LinkedIn pairing yield the innovation and validation needed to propel competency-based learning to its full revolutionary potential?

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Key Points:

  • Higher education investment companies say Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn has the potential to change the way employers hand-pick future employees via online learning credentials.
  • Consultants say LinkedIn is the only place where hundreds of millions of people voluntarily giving their longitudinal job and education history—which could allow for unique analyses of what certifications actually lead to improved career paths.
  • Though consultants say Microsoft likely has “too much to lose by competing against traditional universities,” with whom it has close partnerships, it could easily dominate the corporate training market.

(Next page: Overview of what college and university career credentialing programs should know about the Microsoft and LinkedIn pairing)

A Large Bid—for What?

Microsoft made a $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn this month, paying almost 50 percent more per share than the price at which the social network last traded. Investors and consultants have been asking “why?”

Ed-tech speculation is aggregating toward the idea that between LinkedIn’s workspace clout and Microsoft’s computational power, the two ed-tech giants have a formula for superior synergy…and that synergy most-likely revolves around online career competencies and workplace matching.

In other words, Microsoft could soon become a professional must-have, especially in HR.

With its Office suite—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.—Microsoft already dominates the market for productivity tools,” says Quartz news outlet. “Given LinkedIn’s complementary focus on employment skills and career advancement (including its purchase last year of online education company, Lynda.com,) Microsoft is now in a great position to take over the hiring and education sides of work as well.”

“Microsoft can drive the evolution of the competency marketplace in ways LinkedIn as a standalone company couldn’t,” says Ryan Craig, managing director of private equity fund University Ventures, which focuses on the higher education sector, for Quartz. “They can offer a complete HR solution.”

A LinkedIn-Microsoft product would not only help workers work, but also teach them the skills to get hired in the first place.

“LinkedIn has a unique advantage in the education space, in that they are the only place where hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily giving their longitudinal job and education history—which allows potentially for some unique analysis of what programs and courses or certifications actually lead to improved career paths,” says education consultant Michael Feldstein for Quartz. Microsoft could examine that data and then offer those programs itself.

While Feldstein says Microsoft likely has “too much to lose by competing against traditional universities,” with whom it has close partnerships, it could easily dominate the corporate training market—currently a fragmented space with plenty of room for new players.

Click here for the full Quartz article, with comments from a LinkedIn executive on the merger’s potential to “transform learning development.”

Additional Resources on Microsoft and LinkedIn:

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.


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