LinkedIn’s entry into predictive analytics has sparked an important conversation, both regarding the state of the emerging predictive industry and LinkedIn’s place in the enterprise software world. Given many of the company’s moves – most notably its Bizo and Fliptop acquisitions – it is becoming increasingly clear that LinkedIn intends to be much more than just an online “professional network.” There’s little doubt that it wants its place in the B2B sales and marketing software stack.
The question is, what does this mean for the other big players? LinkedIn’s latest announcement was very likely the first of many moves that we’ll see in the predictive market from folks like Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, Marketo, HubSpot and others. In fact, Marc Benioff recently spoke with Fortune Magazine about the ‘AI (artificial intelligence) spring’ saying, “When I look at the next set of technologies that we have to build in Salesforce, it’s all data-science-based technology. We don’t need more cloud. We don’t need more mobile. We don’t need more social. We need more data science.”
If you look at how the AI spring is likely to play out, there are a few logical approaches the big software players will take as they look to bring predictive capabilities into their product portfolios.
Adding Predictive Features
The first of these is to extend their existing apps with basic predictive functions – essentially playing it safe. These predictive features will probably be based on data the vendor already controls and should work with minimal customization. For example, rather than requiring manually assigned point values to arrive at basic lead scores, marketing automation vendors might enhance their lead scoring capabilities by using a handful of variables that are consistent across their customers to start calculating predictive scores.