Microsoft using LinkedIn data to challenge in sales software

|By:, SA News Editor

Microsoft (MSFT +1.6%) is boosting its challenge to sales software leader Salesforce.com (CRM +0.3%) with the first major fruit borne by its $26B acquisition of LinkedIn.

Data from LinkedIn -- particularly a salesperson's relationships on the business-focused social network -- is going into Microsoft's Dynamics 365, and promises to offer ways to salvage an at-risk deal based on artificial intelligence.

"I want to be able to democratize AI so that any customer using these products is able to, in fact, take their own data and load it into AI for themselves," says Microsoft chief Satya Nadella.

The company's a small player in sales software, but says specialized applications are Microsoft's "third cloud," representing its future, he says.

The former chief of Dynamics said in 2015 that it was a $2B business unit, but Microsoft is fourth in sales software behind Salesforce.com, Oracle (ORCL +0.9%) and SAP (SAP +3.8%).