LinkedIn's new Contacts app is designed to help users stay in touch with important business contacts and build contacts with others.
According to Mashable: "LinkedIn Contacts integrates into your email, mobile address book and calendar to create a one stop shop of sorts for all of your contacts that is accessible from the web and an app."
LinkedIn has rolled out a steady stream of design, social and content enhancements over the last six months as it aims to increase the engagement across its business platform. And this new app will certainly increase the odds that you'll be connected to your entire contact database on LinkedIn.
Community + Content x Contacts = Social CRM?
To its credit, LinkedIn has never been a walled garden; you can export your contact information. And with email plugins for Outlook and GMail as well as apps like Cardmunch, it's been simple to benefit from LinkedIn data across other platforms.
LinkedIn's recent focus on community, content and contacts shows it's trying to reverse the flow of data outside the site and give users more reasons to spend time on LinkedIn. And if you look at all of the LinkedIn enhancements in aggregate, it starts to look as if we're being given a mix of tools used for "extraction, transfer and loading" of data into a customer relationship marketing (CRM) platform.
Consider if LinkedIn continued enhancing the platform and, within the next 12 months, it started offering a basic and paid level of CRM functionality to its more than 200 million members.
1) User Base: It's user base would increase and it would encourage all users to invest more time in the platform.
2) Social Business: Whether or not you consider LinkedIn a niche platform due to its business focus, by expanding its focus on contacts into CRM it becomes THE business platform and much tougher to displace.
3) Monetization: In addition to the revenue from its paid CRM services, the advertising potential would be significant. Consider a utility like email - it's open all day. Turning LinkedIn into a CRM utility would increase user exposure to advertising.
There's a distinct delta between a CRM platform and the functionality that LinkedIn currently provides. But it's not so significant that it prevents the social platform from becoming a CRM platform with more than 200 million potential users on its first day of launch.
LinkedIn CRM wouldn't seemingly be able to disrupt large companies' use of enterprise-wide CRM packages, but it could usher in the trend of personal CRM. Like any idea, it's fraught with potential and peril. But it's safe to say we've only just begun to see the impact of LinkedIn's steady stream of innovations, acquisitions and enhancements.