LinkedIn’s Applications Further Moves the Intranet Away from the Firewall

Although I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I’m sure my kids won’t know what a firewall is when they reach the workplace.

Why? firewalls, the enterprise security that maintains security between employees and the public on your intranet are going to be irrelevant –and LinkedIn and other SaaS products are making this happen –one URL at a time. I’ve expanded upon this a bit more in a recent discussion with the WSJ indicating the opportunity for LinkedIn and others.

I’ve been in close contact with LinkedIn over the past year, and recently had lunch with their CEO to discuss their strategy, so I’ve been fully briefed on this platform announcement. Given the downturn in economy, this is a great market for LinkedIn to grow with users, and to offer services and features that reduce developer cost within the enterprise.

A bit of history, LinkedIn, which is reported to have 29million users, was one of the OpenSocial partners that agreed to join the coalition and put their name by it in fall 2007, finally, a year later they’ve finally launched an application platform with 10 application partners. You’ve heard of MySpace, Bebo, and many others being OpenSocial compliant, and you should be aware of Facebook’s F8 platform that kicked this off in mid year 2007.

These 10 application (sometimes called widgets) are now accessible by LinkedIn users and have collaborative and social features that allow you and your LinkedIn friends to share presentations, favorite books, event calendars, documents and other work related themes (no super poke here). You can collaborate with your colleagues at a company and even beyond with your business contacts, imagine that, getting work done with people that aren’t even your colleagues.

I used to be the enterprise intranet manager at HDS before I started the social media program, and I know that from experience, most intranets are a horrible cobbled together experience, most lacking true social features. We continue to see more SaaS products being offered like SocialText, Zoho, ConnectBeam, and of course SalesForce to allow employees to work and share together, without even having to rely on IT developers to build a new products.

LinkedIn isn’t done with it’s growth, to truly be a major competitor in the intranet market, they need to make their system extensible with other platform players, allow more business applications to be shared on their platform (they hand select developers) and consider some acquisitions in the community platform space or collaboration space. Since they snagged funding before the investment money dried up, they recently have generated $22 million in funding (beyond their existing raised capital, which will enable them to : 1) stand the test of time, 2) get ready to go shopping.

Expect LinkedIn to:

  • Offer more collaboration between colleagues and connections to happen outside of the firewall where IT doesn’t have control
  • Provide resources for some IT departments to lean on SaaS environments to further their mission
  • Launch more business applications request to be developers on LinkedIn’s business platform
  • Export the top business applications will be then be ported to community platform players
  • Raised significant capital, thrive in an downturned economy, and get ready to go shopping