It goes without saying it’s a big deal. $26bn is clearly not a drop in the ocean, not even if you have reportedly $90bn+ in cash in your business. 

The quote below jumped out at me as really emphasising the rationale behind it. Microsoft is making sure its core products like Office and Outlook don't fall behind those currently (and in future) offered by data heavy companies like Google.  Big jumps in capability sometimes come with a big price tag.

We know that LinkedIn has a lot of data.  Reports on the deal put the user base north of 400 million worldwide, but what's not clear is whether this is a defensive move by Microsoft (i.e. to stop falling too far behind) or offensive (i.e. with perhaps some groundwork already having been done/planned on a leap ahead with new innovation and market share).  

Undoubtedly it's moving into new social markets that it's not really dabbled in before. The plus side is though that it's already a very data knowledgeable business.  But what kinds of issues will it have been considering (as anyone would) when purchasing a data heavy businesses? Well essentially this: 

  • were users told their data may be shared with potential purchasers of the business? Have we even got a right to access and use it?

  • what were users told their data would be used for? Do the uses that we're proposing fit in with that?

  • were users told their data would be held inside or outside the EEA?

  • how is the data organised? Do different permissions apply to different users? Are they held neatly in different data silos or all bundled together? Can the permissions be tracked and complied with?

  • have there been any breaches of data protection legislation?

  • how and when will we communicate changes to users (such as in the identity of the data controller, the uses of their data, and countries where it may be processed) 

The idea for both Microsoft and LinkedIn is clearly monetisation. That sounds cool but remember, we're in an era where not only are individuals more data savvy but the rules around data protection (particularly in Europe and potentially the US through the Privacy Shield negotiations) are becoming stricter. 

That doesn't mean stop, but it does mean proceed with caution.