It’s not clear if the latest upgrade to LinkedIn is one that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) had in mind back in 2016 when it acquired the professional networking website. It was a question mark for Microsoft at first, but there’s no denying it is getting its money worth from the $26 billion deal. Mostly it’s because Microsoft is leveraging the power of its cloud computing platform Microsoft Azure.
In the latest development, LinkedIn will translate the contents of any page into one of dozens of other languages with the proverbial flip of the switch. It matters because of LinkedIn’s 500 million users, most of whom live outside of the United States.
LinkedIn also announced the release of QR codes that can serve as a digital business card for users of the LinkedIn app.
LinkedIn’s use of its parent company’s cloud architecture is another accolade for Microsoft Azure. It’s quickly becoming an easy-to-use, business-friendly cloud computing solution for business customers that simply want to offload the hard parts of the cloud to someone far better equipped to handle that work.
The translation tool put into place utilizes the same Microsoft Text Analytics API (application programing interface) used by Bing, Skype and the Microsoft Office productivity suite, but also used externally by Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), among others.
The cloud-supported function will clearly make it easier for business professionals to find and work with one another, even if they don’t speak the same language.
As for the QR (quick response) code, you’ve seen them, even if you don’t know what they are. The pixilated black and white squares that often appear on a product package than, when photographed by a smartphone, can take you to a web page offering more information about that product? Using the LinkedIn tool, people can now have their own information page.
Microsoft was looking for ways to get more people using the mobile app, and recognized that actual, in-person encounters were as much of an opportunity to do so as online meetings were.
Neither application is exactly cutting edge. QR codes have been around for a while, and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) both offer a means of translating web pages into other languages.
Microsoft’s use of the idea is arguably the most rational, business-productive use of such a tool though, and it works like a charm. LinkedIn just got a little better.
It’s Microsoft Azure that’s the unsung hero of the upgrades though and these are just a couple more ways of using it.
Another Way to Use Microsoft Azure
It’s not a secret that cloud computing and storage is the future. Pretty much anything that can be done on a personal computer or a local server can be done in the cloud, and many tasks can only be done via cloud computing.
What’s still going largely unappreciated, however, is just how many heads Microsoft Azure itself is turning.
The proof: During the first quarter, Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenue tallied $6.0 billion, quietly exceeding Amazon’s cloud-based revenue of $5.4 billion. Of the 58% increase in Microsoft’s cloud sales, Microsoft Azure led the charge with a 93% year-over-year improvement.
It’s not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, to be fair. Microsoft is doing something with its cloud arm that Amazon is not even trying to do, and vice versa.
That’s kind of the big point to digest. Microsoft is thinking of business-specific solutions that make its cloud platform more marketable.
The company has developed Azure and corresponding functionality specifically for the Internet of Things and hybrid cloud implementations. Azure has been tweaked for vendor specific platforms like Red Hat and SAP. Azure caters to the gaming market, the blockchain market, and the digital marketing market.
That’s not to say Amazon or even Alphabet’s Google haven’t also built business-friendly cloud solutions. But, in that Microsoft has been catering to the business world for a couple of decades now, it knows a thing or two about what the business community wants, and will use. Its rivals still don’t quite have that same intuition, or connects.
That makes Microsoft Azure a very powerful weapon.
Bonus: Last quarter, LinkedIn’s revenue was up 37% to $1.3 billion, underscoring Microsoft’s status as a beast within the business market.
Bottom Line for Microsoft Azure
Infallible? No, Microsoft can still stumble. And, the downside of adding the recurring revenue that cloud-computing customers bring to the table is, it’s slow growth.
It’s worth the wait, however. Microsoft is already arguably the preferred solution of the enterprise cloud computing market. That distinction is only going so solidify unless Alphabet or Amazon step up their game, and soon.
Barring that unlikely development from the two rivals, the enterprise-level cloud market is largely Microsoft’s for the taking. Two more reasons were added to the lengthening list of reasons for that argument… and they weren’t even the two most potent reason on that list.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.