The future of LinkedIn already looked a lot rosier to me the minute auto-posting from Twitter was discontinued. According to two recent articles, however, that’s just the start of the changes coming to LinkedIn.
In this this interview with Forbes in June, CEO Jeff Weiner indicated that data will continue to be the most critical piece of LinkedIn’s strategy, with many upcoming enhancements designed to give users better access to the site’s 160-million member database:
[O]ne of the most exciting parts of the LinkedIn platform and the LinkedIn ecosystem is that the more members we attract, the more deeply they become engaged, the more data is being generated. And that data can be leveraged to create more relevant experiences for our members and better return on investment for our customers.
Data really powers everything that we do…And then there’s the future, where we can take this. So, by now many people are familiar with the concept of a social graph, this notion of connecting with friends and family and what’s possible there, and for LinkedIn with regard to our context we’ve built a professional graph that enables you to connect with former colleagues, current colleagues, business contacts up to 3 degrees.
But part of our vision is building off of this professional graph to create an economic graph. So, imagine a world where every job and economic opportunity is digitally represented, and the skills required to get those jobs is digitally represented, and the companies offering these jobs have a profile that’s available on the web, and you can see who you know at these companies up to 3 degrees, and that every individual, every professional worldwide — you know, there’s 3.3 billion people in the global workforce — that every professional, someone that earns a living from their skill, on a global basis has their digital profile and identity available.
So, imagine all of that graphed where each of those items becomes a node, and taking all of the friction out of the potential connections there, and you can literally start to improve the productivity of the global economy, making it easier for capital, both human capital and resources, to flow to where they can best be leveraged.
Pretty heady stuff, and indicative of the way LinkedIn has grown over time: slowly, with a dogged focus on making the site useful if not sexy. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that LinkedIn will look exactly the same as it always has. In fact, yesterday TechCrunch posted about an upcoming LinkedIn redesign “that will put a lot more emphasis on building out relationships, make better use of socially curated news content — and, if things go according to plan, should make the site a lot more sticky.”
The TechCrunch post points to three major aesthetic changes LinkedIn users should anticipate:
[A] new menu bar…on a darkened background [that] will now remain at the top of the page as you scroll down and around. That gives users the ability to, say, create a message or check on news from wherever they are on the page…
[Changes to LinkedIn Today with] images in the feed [that] are much bigger…[and]…
[M]ore functionality in the “people who have viewed your profile” area, with conditional “Message/Connect” buttons next to each person, meaning: if someone has viewed your profile and you’re connected to them you can message them, otherwise, you can connect.
TechCrunch also points to “algorithmic changes, where ease of use will be coupled with content that LinkedIn members actually want to use.” Overall, it appears that the goal is giving members a better interface while allowing them to better leverage the data that makes the site tick.
Although these changes are likely to result in some surprises, one thing’s certain: LinkedIn remains dead set on maintaining the key point of difference Weiner alludes to in the Forbes piece.
LinkedIn is not a service that enables you to pass the time, it’s a service that enables you to save time. And that goes back to our mission, which is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.