SAN FRANCISCO---The term “graph” has become one of the most unexpected buzzwords in technology this year.
Perhaps even a bit haphazardly, the word is being batted around frequently by some of the world’s most populated social networks in order to connect (and monetize) the hundreds of millions of users subscribed and the data they produce.
LinkedIn shed further light on an ambitious plan to produce the “world’s first economic graph” during a press conference on Wednesday morning.
Based on the presentation, mobile is the clear foundation for getting this graph off the ground.
Naturally, despite being the largest professional social network, LinkedIn still has a long way to go with this strategy, as demonstrated when the website when down for a brief period ahead of the event.
Regardless, CEO Jeff Weiner briefly acknowledged the hiccup when kicking things off, assuring that things were “getting back to normal” at the beginning of the invite-only event.
While LinkedIn has been busy fleshing out its digital publishing vision for some time now, Weiner pinpointed mobile as the fastest growing arm of the company.
As of the first quarter of 2011, only eight percent of visits coming to LinkedIn stemmed from mobile channels, according to Weiner. Today, that figure stands at 38 percent.
"Not all professionals are created the same,” Redfern specified. “What we’ve been able to do is grow desktop to accommodate different needs, but that doesn’t work as well with mobile."
Describing it as LinkedIn’s “mobile moment,” Weiner admitted that his team expects that statistic to cross 50 percent next year.
Mobile users are also 2.5 times more active than desktop-only members, Weiner cited, declaring that with that level of engagement, monetization of that opportunity is a chief priority. One example already, he noted, is that more than 50 percent of sponsored updated revenue was generated through mobile after the first quarter.
"We used to be a brand helping workers for eight hours on a desktop,” reflected Joff Redfern, vice president of LinkedIn’s mobile product unit. "Now it’s sixteen hours a day on a mobile device.”
Thus, the vision for LinkedIn’s economic graph is to connect the dots between listed opportunities, skills, companies, educational institutions, people and professional knowledge to form a network that "will map the global economy.
Weiner explained this means offering faster connections to identifying every skill required, a profile for every company and educational institution in the world, and then overlay that data to the extent these institution and people would like to share publicly.
"Not all professionals are created the same,” Redfern specified, sighing over having to satisfy differences between everyone from marketers to engineers. “What we’ve been able to do is grow desktop to accommodate different needs, but that doesn’t work as well with mobile."
Thus, enter LinkedIn’s multi-app strategy with the goal of satisfying everyone -- at least to some extent.
"We’re not going to have a single app. We’re going to have many apps,” Redfern summed up.
The flagship app remains the LinkedIn app, which Redfern compared to a Swiss Army knife by taking the best tools of the desktop and putting them on mobile. These features include search and profile pages. Three other existing apps that have been jettisoned, developed and acquired this year include Contacts, Recruiter and Pulse, respectively.
The latest addition to the portfolio unveiled on Wednesday is the rebuilt version of the platform’s iPad app, promising a more personalized experience with a revamped news feed and search function.
Linkedin's mobile team argued that the tablet has emerged as the device for productivity from the couch after after a long work day. He added that the iPad app has been "completely reimagined" based on the way professionals use their tablets.
The new LinkedIn for iPad app will be rolled out to Apple's App Store in iTunes later on Wednesday.
LinkedIn also highlighted its new link between its user profile database and the native Mail app on the iPhone. Made possible through the acquisition of browser plugin startup Rapportive last year.
Dubbed "LinkedIn intro," the plugin essentially brings over user information that is publicly available on LinkedIn for immediate reference within the iPhone Mail app. The service supports most major email clients, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and AOL Mail as well as iCloud and Google Apps.
Intro is currently only available by invite-only, but interested LinkedIn users can submit their email addresses and/or phone numbers in order to apply.