Microsoft announced its intent to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2B — Satya Nadella’s biggest deal ever and maybe the largest technology acquisition in history. Surprisingly, many analysts are calling this a “social” consumer acquisition, rather than an enterprise one. The key point in Satya’s letter completely contradicts this theory by stating that the deal is a nexus of the “Professional Cloud” and the “Professional Network”. The future of cloud software is AI-driven applications that allow customers to leverage quality data to drive business growth.

Data quality is the key to deriving accurate insight from data for organizations. Most companies struggle to keep their CRM data clean and the chief complaint from most CMOs is lack of quality customer intelligence. The ongoing concern for most enterprises is that cleaning CRM data isn’t easy because there isn’t a master data set or universally “true” data set to compare against. In most cases, enterprises are flying blind and attempt to bandage this concern by hiring a Chief Data Officer or an internal data science team.

With LinkedIn, Microsoft has the customer master that is constantly updated and refreshed by 433 million professionals. This customer master will enhance the quality of CRM data and will push more enterprises to potentially leave other SFA solutions like, Oracle Fusion, and SAP and towards Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If enterprises believe that they will always be served the right contacts, customers, and data, they will without a doubt move to the CRM solution that is the perfect unification of high-quality data and sales force automation.

This is a bold move by Microsoft because it is a bet that the future of all enterprise processes will be driven by AI, which requires the cleanest possible foundation of data, contacts, and attributes. With LinkedIn’s constantly improving professional network which not only includes firmographic and basic data, but also skills professionals either have or wish to develop, the data within Microsoft’s applications will allow Microsoft Dynamics CRM to keep customer data up-to-date, Microsoft PowerBI to signal important insights for decision-makers to consider, and Office365 to surface the right people to collaborate with on a project.

This is the beginning of intelligent software that will change how we think, operate, and grow over the next generation.