Why The Future Is More About Viv Than LinkedIn

When the news broke last month that Microsoft was to acquire LinkedIn for a little over $26 billion, it sent shockwaves through the tech world as one of the most expensive deals of its kind in history. The question is: Why did it happen, what was the potential gain for each side of the table and where do we go from here?

The truth is, we’ve seen a number of acquisitions like these, even if the particular deals we’ve witnessed haven’t reached $26 billion. In this case, it appears that both Microsoft and LinkedIn needed each other in a way that would defend their position and possibly grow much faster.

Microsoft wants to integrate LinkedIn’s database into a variety of Microsoft products for greater intelligence so that Skype, Word or Exchange will be LinkedIn enabled. From LinkedIn’s side of things, it’s clear to me that they’re in a situation where they need new sources of data. There is so much data that can be collected from people about their careers. If Microsoft can collect additional data and then incorporate it into a merged data set with LinkedIn, the value of that data to advertisers (among others) will be much higher. And regarding that particular revenue stream, I don’t think LinkedIn has been that sophisticated at advertising.

With this move, I also suspect that Microsoft will try to get more aggressive in the educational space, considering that LinkedIn recently purchased one of the premier online learning companies, Lynda, for $1.5 billion.

In fact, the rationale for Microsoft buying LinkedIn is likely close to the reason why Facebook purchased Instagram. Microsoft has a substantial platform with over 1 billion users but anybody who can add value to that network while at the same time maintaining some exclusivity might find themselves in an extremely advantageous position.

From Portals To Personalization

In the long run, however, the future from where I sit is less in portals like LinkedIn and more in personalized agents. Yes, that’s where more applications like Siri come in. However, Siri only really scratches the surface of machine learning.

The next generation of Siri is an artificial intelligence platform called Viv. Which, by the way, happens to have been created by Dag Kittlaus, the inventor of Siri.

This new type of digital personal assistant will learn your preferences, from your favorite foods so that it can recommend a restaurant in the area to knowing that you prefer an aisle seat on plane trips. It will learn all of this about you, regardless of what device you’re using.

Rather than today’s fairly limited assistant that may perform a few dozen different things, the new generation of assistants could perform hundreds of thousands of tasks. The queries will be more sophisticated and Viv should be able to handle those as it is “taught” new preferences.

To watch the world premiere of Viv from Siri co-founder Dag Kittlaus, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rblb3sptgpQ

“Every major technology company is now investing billions of dollars in the intelligent assistant space,” says Kittlaus. “This is a race to a single interface for the user.”

In addition, Viv’s structure isn’t about it being pre-loaded with different services — a huge evolution for where technology is headed. We spoke to this very development in a recent post that examined how more companies like Facebook, Airbnb and Uber don’t own any hard assets that comprise the platform. The same holds true for Viv.

“No one company in the world has the resources to plug in every one of the different services you might want to use with an assistant,” Kittlaus explains.“That’s what Viv has spent a whole lot of time and money on — perfecting a 3rd party ecosystem.”

Could Viv Manage Your Career Path? Partially.

Viv is certainly a more sophisticated and personalized agent than Siri. It can know your skills and preferences. It’s clear that you can tell this assistant a lot and it doesn’t need to guess. When Kittlaus presented Viv to an audience for the first time, his demo wasn’t about careers. It was about the weather.

Still, Viv is an open platform. And to me, the richer the platform is, the more capable the personalized agent is. Viv opens a window for truly intelligent agents in a vast variety of issues and circumstances. Rather than simple “yes” or “no” answers, Viv can prioritize answers and remember preferences such as how you don’t want to commute more than an hour to work. As you learn new skills, you might report this development back to it. Or you might report back to Viv on certain classes you just took, which, in turn, Viv might incorporate to negotiate on your behalf.

And Yet, For All Those Advancements…
There’s at least one element that Viv — and any other personalized agent like it — can’t perform as well as a human for total career guidance. It can’t know the inner workings of a workplace culture. It doesn’t have a history of established relationships to have real insight on where a potential employer is going from here in terms of their company direction — for example, which technological areas they’re going to be expanding into. It can’t understand if a manager’s work style is going to mesh with a candidate’s. It can understand a skill set but can it give deep, rich recommendations of possible paths based on a candidate’s goals and passions?

It’s this context that’s so important to a robust, detailed, well-rounded picture that every candidate and hiring manager deserves prior to entering what they hope will be a very long and fruitful working relationship. On this front, as a technology that can single-handedly handle all of the above, Viv has a ways to go.

However, if we embrace the assistant aspect of how Viv works and its potential to learn what we prefer on a much deeper level than where we’ve been, it is still a very exciting technological development for recruiters like ourselves at Roy Talman & Associates. It raises the possibility of making our searches and workflow more efficient. It accelerates our productivity. It can make all those administrative tasks of our day-to-day life easier so we can focus on having meaningful interpersonal conversations with candidates and hiring managers.

This is a technology that will not only evolve and get “smarter” as it learns our behaviors but it’s one that’s not going away. How do you see incorporating it into your business and life? What implications might it have for your role and industry? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Ilya Talman is the Founder and President of Roy Talman & Associates, one of the top executive search firms connecting exceptional talent to the world’s finest financial trading firms and institutions. Headquartered in Chicago, RTA has been recognized for over 30 years for its deep financial industry knowledge and a process that goes beyond the resume to factor in chemistry as much as credentials. Call us at 312.425.1300 or email info@roytalman.com.