I was at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference earlier this month and managed to catch an interview with LinkedIN CEO Jeff Weiner where he was talking not about your social graph, but your economic graph. Jeff defined his Economic Graph as “a tool that can “digitally represent” both every economic opportunity in the world” and “every skill required to gain those opportunities.” Combined with a database of “a professional profile of every worker in the world,” this theoretical tool would not only provide job-seekers with potential career destinations, but also — and here’s the disruptive bit — give them a clear idea of how they might arrive at those destinations.”
Just so you don’t think you missed out on something big, no one yet has built an economic graph, but that might be the direction LinkedIN is heading. Jeff also talked about “fractionalization” that is your job description and the work you do gets smaller and more exacting while the technology gets bigger. This is one of the inevitable outcomes of complexity. A job someone once did in the past as a crafts person, i.e. a cabinet maker, today only makes doors or handles, or assembles these pre-built parts on site for the customer.
Because our work (and social) lives are getting more complex, and more online, the importance of what you did, and your reputation is now more important than your role or title. This means that organizations are becoming more of a meritocracy, and no org chart is static or even reflects the organization accurately today.
Just as the org chart and the nature of organizations is evolving, LinkedIN is also looking at how to evolve each person’s profile so it is less static and more dynamic. In some ways what Jeff is talking about is starting to look like ODesk or Elance, both of which are doing quite well. Either or both might be good acquisition targets for LinkedIN.
What I mean by this is that on ODesk (for example, since I found my VA there), you can see what work a person has done (if they are a coder you can see their code, If they are a writer, you can see what they wrote), so you not only see what they are doing in their process or project, but you see if they completed it successfully, and if the person they did the work for liked it (4 out of 5 stars), or left a testimonial. LinkedIN already has testimonials, and people are always recognizing what skills I have, and many of my blogs, articles, and books are online, so they can see not only what I wrote, but what others think about it.
All of this makes up your economic graph which is a super-set of your social graph, your work, your reputation, etc. I think the idea that LinkedIN is getting at is that they want to be the platform for your economic graph, rather than just a community of working people.
I would love to hear your ideas and comments on this!