Remember Flickr? The photo-sharing platform was one of the original social media pioneers; beloved of its users and admired by Silicon Valley, Yahoo snapped it up for a song in 2005. Fast forward to today, and Flickr languishes far behind its brasher competitor Instagram, its number of active users steadily dwindling down towards zero.
It’s an old story; one that’s been around as long as the Internet. When a technology giant swallows an innovative new start-up, the key qualities that made the service so beloved of its users are roughly-handled, despised, chewed up and thrown out by the larger organisation’s corporate machine.
When integration is used to force functionalities upon users rather than offering them something useful, failure is bound to follow. Compare this approach to the waiting game played by Facebook after its acquisition of Instagram – or by Microsoft after buying LinkedIn, for example.
Successful tech businesses understand the importance of taking integration slowly, and only bringing out new functionalities or services if they bring real value to users themselves.
It took Facebook four years to introduce a unified Pagers Manager inbox that combined Facebook, Messenger and Instagram interactions in one place. In Microsoft’s case, they’ve only just properly started to integrate LinkedIn data with Office 365, almost two years on from the acquisition.
We think of the tech game as being fast-moving, with big penalties for delays in bringing a new product or service to market. In fact, there’s an equally critical imperative for slowness and consideration which is often overlooked. This is especially true in B2B contexts, where rushed integration risks causing enormous headaches for millions of users who rely on a platform to do their job.
Often – one hesitates to say always – a business’s strategic aims are best served by taking the slow route to integration. All the time that Wall Street was pressing Microsoft on its acquisition strategy and bemoaning its seeming unwillingness to fold the business network into its product portfolio, Redmond’s engineers were beavering hard and silently in the background.
We’re about to see the results. Microsoft has recently started to cross-pollinate its platforms like Office and Dynamics with data from LinkedIn, while the business networking site will soon add an “interest panel”, and to add content from groups into news feeds to improve the usability, relevance and “stickiness” of the site. Meanwhile, the company has launched Microsoft Relationship Sales, which integrates Dynamics 365 with the LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool.
This may have taken Microsoft some time, but recruiters around the world are offering their thanks that they’ve taken it slowly. Had Microsoft hurried to implement new, untested services on LinkedIn’s 500 million plus audience, it would most likely have caused immediate user frustration thanks to poor data integration, glitch-y functionality, and that capital crime for social media, poor UX.
Following a carefully considered strategic roadmap has enabled Microsoft to turn LinkedIn from a potential albatross into a unique differentiator. Ordinary users are about to gain greater relevance from their LinkedIn feed and contacts, while recruiters can now arm their salespeople with an incredibly rich seam of data, all automatically integrated into the business tools they use every day.
In a world that seem to sacrifice everything on the altar of speed, there’s much to be said for embracing the joy of slowness.
Conspicuous are Dynamics 365 recruitment experts. If you are looking at new opportunities or looking for advice on the market, please do get in touch.