LinkedIn Application Platform: A Major Advance

In a playful, tongue-in-cheek, maybe even SMUG sense, I’ve previously called LinkedIn “social networking without the social.” So the announcement last night of its Applications platform raises its usefulness significantly from my perspective.

I first saw this news in my WordPress dashboard as I was writing a post last night, and went to install the WordPress application, which is supposed to display the most recent posts from my blog. Note: it didn’t work in my Safari browser, but it did in Firefox and IE. Hopefully either the WordPress gang or LinkedIn are listening like Yammer and will figure out and fix the Safari problem.

Here’s what it looks like when you add the WordPress application:

All you do is paste in your URL, and hit “Save”

And the widget (which you can drag toward the top of your LinkedIn profile) looks like what you see above. Another great reason to have a WordPress blog, huh?

I think this is a huge development. My friend Jeremiah thinks it could mean the end of the intranet.

It’s important because by opening the platform as Facebook did, LinkedIn is saying “we don’t have all the smartest programmers in the world, and we sure can’t afford to pay them. So we will provide an opportunity for others to enhance the usefulness of our site, and connect their sites and services to ours.”

Jeremiah’s point is similar: many (if not most) corporate intranets are missing the consumer-grade social networking features users have come to expect on the Internet. (Isn’t it funny that consumer-grade means higher quality on the Internet, while “business” or “professional” grade is clunkier? But that’s a topic for another post.)

Especially in today’s economic climate, corporate IT departments aren’t going to be able to afford hiring enough programmers to recreate that same level of social networking funtionality (or to put it another way, to “reinvent the wheel.”)

Open source (like WordPress) and Software as a Service (Saas – like Yammer or Salesforce.com) solutions will be smart ways for organizations to get world-class user experience for employees at significantly lower costs.

If someone else has already developed and polished a fantastic user experience, and if you can get it for free or at an extremely reasonable cost, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it? Why not deploy your programmers to create the links and safeguards that tie these world-class applications together?

Jeremiah thinks his yet-to-be-born kids won’t have any concept of a corporate intranet. I’m not so sure about that, but I’m casting my vote with him. He’s a Forrester analyst, after all. (You can cast YOUR vote below!)

But certainly there are some data elements and resources that your corporate IT department is currently paying boatloads to store and back up, that you could instead have outside your firewall. My blog, for example, is out on the Internet for all to see anyway. And Flickr photo streams or other resources could be “cloudsourced,” which would have the benefit of creating more links to your corporate or professional sites.

The LinkedIn announcement suggests that it could be the major hub for integrating this information. And as more applications are developed and security is proven (and as the economic climate puts more pressure on corporate IT to deliver more services for less), even more highly confidential data could be integrated in a hub like LinkedIn.

What do you think? Is Jeremiah right? (No, not Jeremiah Wright…that’s again another topic.)

Cast your vote below, and add your thoughts about this topic in the comments!

[polldaddy poll=1055581]

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 12. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

3 thoughts on “LinkedIn Application Platform: A Major Advance”

  1. Intranets will not exist in the sense that they do now. Instead, they’ll serve as self organizing portals, integrating the tools in use every day. I suspect these tools will be largely kept in house for performance reasons. Our buzzwords will change to reflect some new reality, and they may integrate features from tools such as LinkedIn, but not the other way around.

    A perfect example, albeit imperfect software, is Microsoft Sharepoint. Effectively making massively shared network drives useful again. Being able to collaborate on documents quickly and easily in much the same way as you might with Google Docs or any of the other open tools that already exist. Outsourcing Sharepoint makes it a far less effective tool unless you’re running on some insanely fat network pipe that’s underutilized.

  2. Yes, Bob…I originally tried in Safari and then Firefox for Mac. No luck. Then I tried in IE for Windows and got it to work…and subsequently it displayed in Firefox. Still doesn’t even display in Safari. Hopefully whoever has the problem can get it fixed.

    I might try adding another application to see if I can narrow the problem to LinkedIn’s platform or the WordPress app.

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