It's that time of year when we look forward to the year ahead and make our resolutions and plan how we are going make them happen.
2012 was a big year for LinkedIn, especially in the second half of the year with many changes occurring culminating in the new look profiles which most of us now seem to have. I wonder what 2013 will bring for LinkedIn?
Here is a list of my top 3 wishes for LinkedIn this year;
1, A decent iPad app that actually works!
I use my iPad a lot and to me it is far more than a consumption device yet it seems to me that LinkedIn's app is primarily designed to read LinkedIn Today articles, group posts and updates. Things have improved recently in that you can now update your profile from the app but it is severely lacking in many other areas, for instance you are still unable to invite connections correctly. Anyone that has tried inviting a new connection from the app will have noticed that is does not give you the opportunity to personalise the message which is really poor practice and will lead to less acceptances. As a result I recommend all my delegates to avoid inviting from the iPad or any other mobile app.
My biggest complaint however is that the app is completely unstable. I have now stopped using it completely and prefer to use a browser because I was tired of the app crashing almost every time I used it! At first I thought this might be because I was using the original iPad 1st generation model however once I upgraded to the 3rd and then 4th generation models I found exactly the same problem. I have deleted and reloaded the app several times to no avail. My iPhone app is stable so it can't be related to my account, number of connections etc.
I have many apps on my iPad that I use frequently, most of which are developed by small independent companies with nothing like the resources of a large, profitable multinational organisation like LinkedIn and they are all significantly more stable, better designed and more frequently updated and improved.
There really is no excuse LinkedIn, the iPad development team need a hefty kick up the backside!
2, More effective communication tools
The world has moved on from the days where email dominated all online communication, yes it is still the most used method in business but many people now consider email to be the problem rather than the solution these days and the younger generation just think its passé. So it seems somewhat outdated that LinkedIn still rely on a slow 'email like' communication method.
Inmails, 1st tier messages and group messages are all slow, unresponsive means of communicating. One of the key reasons Twitter has been such a success is that it offers users an instant means of 'live communication'. I would like to see LinkedIn implement some kind of instant messaging facility. This could be as simple as making the IM field in contact information a live link (see right) or building their own IM service into the network. My preferred option would be to see the integration of Skype as a way of communicating with first tier connections.
This would allow users to send instant messages, make VoIP calls or conduct video calls directly from within their home page on LinkedIn. I don't think Skype is a perfect solution but it is widely used throughout the world (especially in China where LinkedIn has a challenge to grow its membership) and it has a built-in 'do not disturb' and 'not active' feature that will protect members from receiving unwarranted messages. I can't imagine Skype having any issues with this as it would surely be beneficial to them and LinkedIn already have a partnership with Microsoft (who own Skype) via their Outlook connector.
I suspect however that in line with LinkedIn's main agenda (data capture), they will want to develop any such feature themselves
This would be a game changer for LinkedIn in my opinion and bring them up to date with the latest communication trends.
3, Stop 'dumbing down' the LinkedIn experience!
Actually I am not against simplification per se as it increases activity amongst new and inexperienced users and this can only be a good thing but why does this mean they have to keep removing more advanced functionality? If you read LinkedIn press releases, blog posts and listen the Jeff Weiner's (CEO) speeches the language is all about 'simplification' and this seems to be a core focus for LinkedIn these days. This is fine but why penalize the very users who helped them attract the new users in the first place by removing more advanced functionality? The removal of many apps last year was a clear example of blatantly ignoring the wishes of experienced users who were enjoying and gaining benefit from using apps such as box.net, Amazon reading list and Tripit.
Whilst they have replaced some of the apps with their own media integration feature, the overall functionality of a LinkedIn profile has decreased since the changes. The inability to remove LinkedIn Today from your homepage is another classic example of this. Most users wouldn't even think to change this so why prevent more competent users from tailoring their home page to suit their needs?
The good news is that LinkedIn have definitely upped their game in continually seeking to improve the online experience (if not the app) and I am sure this will continue in 2013. I am definitely excited to see more changes in the coming year, it remains to be seen if my 3 wishes will be met!
What do you think of my wishes and what changes would you like to see in 2013.
Happy New Year to you all.