LinkedIn Adds New Collaboration Apps to Professionals’ Toolbox

LinkedIn has added a bundle of new productivity tools to its network. The goal of the nine apps — all built on the LinkedIn Intelligent Applications, or InApps, platform — is to facilitate file-sharing, scheduling and other business-oriented activities.

Applications from Amazon, Box.net, Google, Huddle, Six Apart, SlideShare, Tripit and WordPress are among those now available to LinkedIn users.

Wider Opening

This is a significant step in LinkedIn’s opening of its platform to third-party developers, Mario Sundar, LinkedIn community evangelist, told TechNewsWorld.

LinkedIn has always offered basic functionality, such as its “Groups” or “Answers” features, as part of its service, he said. Last year, it began building out additional functionality by incorporating outside applications into its offering. It kicked off the process with the rollout of APIs (application programming interfaces) and a platform strategy that would enable developers to integrate and display their software within the LinkedIn system.

It also joined the OpenSocial initiative, which provides a set of open APIs that enable developers to build and deploy applications across social networks.

The result, Sundar said, is the development of a variety of tools — for example, a Business Week magazine widget that allows users to read an article in the magazine, and then, using the Story Tools function, link to connections at the company mentioned in the article.

Tapping third-party developers to enhance a closed network has become a common tactic among social networks, Greg Sterling, principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, told TechNewsWorld.

“What is different about LinkedIn is that it is keeping these applications focused on the business user,” he noted. “They are more specific than what you can find on Facebook, for example — which is anything and everything, basically.”

Companies that develop applications for the InApps platform will participate in revenue-sharing with the social networking site. There is no one specific model the company is using, Sundar said. “Each is different, depending on the partner. For some, we use an affiliate revenue share model, others will be part of the premium program.”

LinkedIn plans to add more partners to its network as the agreements are inked, he added.

Nine New Functions

Applications currently available:

  • Reading List by Amazon, which allows users to share the books they are reading with other LinkedIn members.
  • Box File Collaboration, an online file-management system that lets members share content on their profile, and collaborate and exchange documents with connections. This application also allows documents — a portfolio, recent deal or bylined articles for instance — to be featured on a member’s profile.
  • My Travel by Tripit, an application that highlights where a user’s professional network is traveling and when those people will be in the same city. Sponsored by Courtyard at Marriott, the application also helps members to meet up at industry events.
  • Google Presentations, which allows LinkedIn members to embed a presentation, such as a recent talk or presentation, on their profile.
  • WordPress, which enables users to sync or share certain blog posts with their network using this application.
  • SlideShare, which allows members to share presentations with connections and find experts for certain industries and topics that also have presentations to share. Members can embed presentations into LinkedIn profiles with this application as well.
  • Blog Link by Six Apart, another application aimed at professional bloggers. This one enables users display blog posts on their profile, but supports numerous platforms besides WordPress, including TypePad, Movable Type, Vox and Blogger.
  • Huddle Workspaces, an application that private and secure online workspaces with project, collaboration and sharing tools.
  • Company Buzz by LinkedIn, an application that allows members to track what is said about their company on Twitter, based on search terms. It can also be configured so users can see who is talking about their company and products. The application shows tweets, trends and top keywords.

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