LinkedIn Becomes an Enterprise 2.0 Syndication Machine with API

LinkedIn Becomes an Enterprise 2.0 Syndication Machine with API explains LinkedIn API and its significant benefits for the enterprise and the executive.

LinkedIn Becomes an Enterprise 2.0 Syndication Machine with API

It finally arrived, late in Q4 2009: LinkedIn is enabling external websites and applications to syndicate in LinkedIn content. If you bear knowledge management scars as I do from the frustration of asking employees to recreate profiles for KM systems, you know that this is a gold mine. Now, you can populate your applications by pulling in LinkedIn profile information. Even better, LinkedIn has not stopped at the Profile: you can also invoke members’ Status Visibility, Connections, Search and Invitations. Read on to learn how your company can become more productive, and how this affects individuals.

Enterprise Frustration and Lost Value

If you’ve been involved with enterprise applications as I have, one of your biggest frustrations is lack of connectivity and information management. while at PwC MCS, I was involved with several firm KM initiatives. In the Knowledge Economy, it’s critical to enable employees to find each other at the lowest possible cost, so they can collaborate and create value. You want to invoke the right expertise at the right time, from within your workstream (i.e. you don’t have to interrupt what you’re doing to find and communicate with the person). The problem is, they don’t have current information on employees, information that would help employees find each other.

Content Syndication: How It’s Revolutionizing Collaboration

Web 2.0 is changing all this because distributed application components can pull information from sources elsewhere via RSS, xML and others. So, if you’re building a KM application for a professional services firm like PwC, you no longer have to ask employees to create profile information: you can pull it from LinkedIn.

Look at this from the employee perspective. You want to have an awesome profile, why not leverage it by publishing it elsewhere? That’s exactly what this is about. Obviously, the enterprise system will have employees add and manage internal proprietary information, but now they have more time to do this!

As I wrote in July 2008, I think that LinkedIn can become “the Swiss bank” of professional profiles, and it looks like they’re moving in that direction. Facebook was the first major platform to do this when Clara Shih built Faceforce (see Faceforce.com Pioneers Enterprise “Social” Network Vision, Exposes Massive LinkedIn Opportunity).

What This Means for Enterprise Apps

In fact, 2009 is proving to be the year of major opening up, for the major social networking platforms. Twitter’s success this year showed the value of hyper-open communication, and everyone’s scrambling to provide it. Also see Web 2.0 Single Sign-on Update: Federating Friends with Facebook Connect and Google Friendconnect.

Adopt what I call ecosystem thinking, which holds that you get the information at the best source, where it’s most easily managed and accessed. That means LinkedIn, for profile information. Let’s be honest. If an employee is going to spent his/her time on a profile, s/he is going to update LinkedIn because it could lead to myriad opportunities. Your internal system will always be short shrift. Use that to your advantage. Likewise, give employees a choice of what kind of status they want to display on their internal profiles, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, MySpace, whatever. Syndicate in!

Obviously this raises issues such as, “Whose information is it?” Although this can change based on the situation, the information belongs to the source, so the profile, tweets, etc. are the employees, you are just publishing it. Conversely, any information s/he creates on your system are the enterprise’s and are subject to your privacy policies and NDAs.

Warning: don’t tell employees, “You work for us, so you owe us the information.” In the U.S., most states are (barely)work-for-hire, so you must respect employees’ rights to their information. There are many conversations in which firms are insisting that they own employees’ social information, but these will fail. For more on how this will make your firm stronger, see Alumni 2.0: Employer-Employee Realignment.

What This Means for Individuals

Fantastic news: increasingly, you can leverage your soon-to-be-awesome LinkedIn profile everywhere. Smart organizations will enable you to decide what part(s) of your LinkedIn profile you share, and with whom. Otherwise it won’t work. Get ready to share your social network information. This requires some planning:

  • Ecosystem planning—think about business and social contexts in which you’d like to share social network information. For most, LinkedIn is very business-focused, so invest in having a fantastic profile.
  • Profiles are dynamic now, so don’t only have someone create one for you, it’s more about managing and interacting. Profiles are not online resumes. Free info here. More in-depth.
  • If you have several personal and professional interests, start specific twitter feed(s), which can very easy to import. See Executive’s Guide to Twitter Guides.
  • For examples, look at LinkedIn’s recent Twitter integration.
  • Facebook has imported Twitter feeds for a long time (install the “Twitter app” in Facebook).
  • These options are going to icnrease geometrically in 2010.
  • You become a publisher, so start thinking about making yourself available as appropriate. From 2010 to 2012, your stakeholders will increasingly expect you to be available online, and you will start losing to those who are.
  • For example, I know many executives who give preference to suppliers who have solid LinkedIn presences because they can get comfortable with the person before taking the meeting. In the next couple of years, tweeting or statuses will become requirements, especially as Gen Y enters management.

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