Microsoft has announced plans to snap up LinkedIn for $26.2bn (£18.4bn) in a move it claims will help grow its Office 365 and Dynamics offerings.
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network and has more than 433 million users globally.
Jeff Weiner will remain as LinkedIn's CEO, reporting to Satya Nadella, once the transaction closes, which it expects to happen before the end of 2016.
Nadella said the acquisition of the "fantastic business" will "accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Office 365 and Dynamics, as we seek to empower every person and organisation on the planet".
Social is one of the key industry megatrends taking hold at the moment, along with cloud, big data and mobile.
Microsoft partner QuantiQ's chief executive Stuart Fenton (pictured, below) told CRN that LinkedIn is a "very good strategic fit" for Microsoft, particularly on the CRM front.
"Knowledge, data and networks are the most prized business-to-business asset," he said. "Microsoft would have the most up-to-date and self-maintained asset that is brilliant and invaluable as a standalone asset, but even more important as a plug-in to Office365 and CRM.
"The LinkedIn business model is effective and their Navigator and Recruit tools are peerless for anyone selling or recruiting.
"The price does seem high but it is incredibly difficult to value since the asset is intangible. I guess they have the spare cash."
Axios Systems sales director Ian Moyse is the 48th most-connected person on LinkedIn globally and recently earned a "power profile" status as one of the UK's top 10 most-viewed profiles.
He agreed that LinkedIn will help bolster Microsoft's CRM offering.
"Owning a key data repository of prospective and customer information, that the client keeps up to date themselves, is of high value when selling CRM systems, as illustrated by examples such as Salesforce's own data.com offering," he said.
"This makes sense for Microsoft, because it will invariably add value for users of Microsoft Dynamics.
"In the increasingly expansive world of social selling, we may now see others looking to acquire other social network platforms. After all, Twitter has been reported to be losing favour to newer platforms."
LinkedIn has faced some criticism from users that it is become less and less like a professional network, with brainteasers and viral posts making its way onto the site.
QuantiQ's Fenton added: "If they can eliminate the maths puzzle posts, life would be even better. LinkedIn is not Facebook despite the worst efforts of some contributors."
Kelvin Kirby, chief executive of Microsoft partner Technology Associates, said he is interested in how LinkedIn will sit with Microsoft's own professional network Yammer.
"Let's hope this acquisition allows Microsoft to reverse some of the changes LinkedIn made to its platform over the last 18 months," he said. "Ironically because of some of those changes, many communities have ditched LinkedIn to go to Yammer.
"So in that respect this is a very interesting move by Microsoft. Would anyone want to lay bets for a combined LinkedIn/Yammer interface in the coming year or so? I can see the day when all LinkedIn users are migrated to a Yammer-like experience."
Next-generation cybersecurity is rumoured to have hired Goldman Sachs as it gears up for going public, according to Reuters report
Cisilion's Hannah Cunningham gives a shortlisted finalist's view of last week's Women in Channel Awards
Chinese cloud vendor ramps up its European presence with two London datacentres
A director at an industrial supplies company based in Cornwall reveals his dos and don'ts when it comes to how IT suppliers deal with his firm