Chapter 1: Case Study Analysis
Background of the problem
LinkedIn is one of the biggest business-oriented social networking services that was founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003. More than 364 million users worldwide use the services of company on the regular basis. However as per e-CareManagement blog, (2010) company is facing some great dilemmas which are very important for them to solve. One of the biggest challenges that company is facing is to open up its platform or remain as a walled garden. Over the internet, a walled garden is called as an environment that directly controls the user’s access to web content and services. LinkedIn has always remained a closed platform because the main aim of the company was to create a network for professional people. Company never wanted to make it a social website in order to share entertainment news, etc. From last few years, it has been seen that people are facing lots of troubles as they are not able to transfer their LinkedIn profile data to other website and nor can they easily communicate with people who use another PNS or SNS platform. In order to access all these valuable features, people have to go to its website and stay there to use those features. There were many advantages to company for using this particular closed platform as it was able to control and monetize all the activities of its members. The online platform is changing all around the world and because of that, people do not like to get restricted and they want to access their data from everywhere (Confessions of a digital immigrant, 2011). The main concern of LinkedIn is that, it has no issue in opening up its platform as they can provide more services to users but the only thing is that, they do not want to be like all the other social networking websites. It do not want to fall behind the prevailing trends in the online networking space which has resulted in the broken down of many other networking sites.
Other than this, there is one more dilemma which company is facing and that is whether to remain professional or go social. It has been seen that, the popularity of the social networking websites are increasing day by day and because of that, it has become very difficult for restrictive platforms like LinkedIn to attract users and remain in business in an appropriate manner. It has been seen that, the companies like Facebook, average people spent almost 21 minutes a day whereas on the LinkedIn, the average time people spent was only 6.5 minutes per day (SearchSecurity, 2015). Recently, Facebook opened its platform for third party applications and in order to capture that LinkedIn developed many professional applications but all got failed. After this failure, company developed a social networking application called bumper sticker which was a huge success. It can be said that, people like to access social applications more than this social ones. Here, if the mission of company is seen, then it can be said that it never wanted to become a social networking website but with close platform it is not able to attract users appropriately.
This particular report has been made in order to understand both the dilemmas by providing what exactly LinkedIn should do in order to attract more users but by remaining professional. To solve these problems, different models will be used and explained in an appropriate manner.
Rationale of Research
The main aim of this particular research is to solve the two dilemmas that LinkedIn is facing and it has become very critical for them to bring out the answers for them. This particular issue is not just with the LinkedIn but with many other websites which till now are using the model of walled garden in which they restrict users to share their details on other website. Recently, it has been seen that, people are refrained to use these types of websites and because of that the average user signup for the websites is very low as compared to other social websites. Other than this, LinkedIn is also facing a doubt that whether it should make its services like other social platforms or remain as a professional websites because in last few years it has been seen that, growth of professional websites have been very low as compared to the SNS websites.
This report has been done to answer both of these dilemmas by finding out the advantages and disadvantages of all the approaches and also the ways in which LinkedIn should act in order to gain more users and remain professionals as well. This report will not only help the readers but will also assist company to understand the path which it should follow so that, it can receive great success in future and can also become one of the best Professional Networking Site in the world.
The main aim of this research is to understand the current dilemma that LinkedIn is facing in terms of Open vs. Closed platform and PNS vs. SNS approach.
- To evaluate the pros and cons of shifting from Walled garden Model to open platform systems for LinkedIn.
- To understand the feasibility of Social Network Sites as compared to professional Network Sites within the context of LinkedIn.
This particular report is divided into different chapters and the description of those chapters are:
Chapter 1: Introduction to case study- In this, the complete background of the study has been given regarding the LinkedIn which is discussed by pointing out the dilemmas that company is facing and what will be the impact of those issues. Further, in this the complete research aim and objectives related to study have also been discussed which are very important for further research.
Chapter 2: Case brief- In this, the complete situation of the company is discussed by giving some real facts and figures so that, everything can be cleared to readers as well to researcher.
Chapter 3: Problem statement and plan of analysis- The complete problem statement will be discussed by pointing out the issues that LinkedIn is planning and what will be its outcomes. Further, all these problems will be linked to different models, theories, etc. proposed plan analysis is given by mentioning the sources of data.
Chapter 2: Case brief
Dilemma 1: Open Up the Platform, or Continue As a “Walled Garden
It has been seen as per () that the companies like Google, Facebook, etc. which are open platform companies attracts millions of users everyday to them and because of that they are not letting the visitors go to other websites. Other than these social networking sites, there are some of the professional networking websites also like LinkedIn, etc. The issue with these websites is that they are not able to generate same users as these social websites do and it is hurting them on the regular basis. LinkedIn is one of the biggest professional networking website and in the recent years it has been seen that this company has failed to generate users as compared to social websites.
The main dilemma that company is facing is directly related to the open platform and closed platform which is also called as a walled garden. This has been a dilemma because in closed platform, LinkedIn do not allow its users to share the data to other websites or get connected to them which are hurting people on the regular basis. It has been regarded as one of the few weaknesses of company because it is one of the biggest walled garden or a closed platform networking website (Techopedia.com. 2015). If it is compared to the competitors in the social networking industry the number of unique visitors and the amount of time spent on their website is very low as compared to the websites such as MySpace and Facebook. Linked is faced with different kinds of opportunities for expansion and innovation and the central opportunity for the expansion is to move beyond walled garden to the social networking as well. LinkedIn has a great ability to leverage different social applications on other site which they have already done with Facebook by using its Bumper Sticker Application. Company has gardened global brand recognition and has a great ability to gain more membership in the Asian market over the upcoming years.
Some of the threats to LinkedIn is fairly obvious and one of them is Facebook as it has attempted to open their platform and expand into the professional networking but LinkedIn on the other hand is very hesitant to expand into social networking. On one side, Facebook is directly attempting to bridge the gap between social and professional networking by offering a website where everyone can be social with friends and family members through videos and photo sharing and commenting one another but it has also offered to remain professional in the same environment (Corwin, 2008). On the other hand, despite of many opportunities that resides in front of LinkedIn it is still not opening up its platform to that extent where users can be free of restrictions. LinkedIn has various revenue streams that they have tapped and can potentially tap in the near future but this close platform is restraining them. Company has remained a closed platform from the very beginning and the advantages that it has received out of that is that it allows them to control network of members. Former CEO of LinkedIn Dan Nye also said that there are some doubts over the long term success of the Walled Garden Model because users are directly seeking expanded features with the continual increase of social networks on the web. All these doubts are provoking company to open up their platform and give users some complete freedom.
Dilemma 2: Go Social, or Stay Exclusively Professional
As discussed above, LinkedIn always has one strategy in mind and that is to become a leader in the professional networking (PNS), a leader in business networking. Dan Nye used to call LinkedIn as a professional tool that is used directly in order to search different individuals of various professions, recruiters, experts, consultants and many more. One of the biggest strategies of company was to emerge as a major player in PNS and they did it successfully. The company always wanted to keep a strong differentiation between PNS and SNS along with maintaining a large crop of their professional users (Gigaom.com, 2008).
One of the biggest risks in its current strategy is that they might be leaving a large number of prospective members on the table by being just only a professional networking website rather than expanding to the social network. Facebook has continued to grab a stranglehold of more members each day passing than LinkedIn by targeting on the younger audiences that has grown up with the network. It has also been seen that Facebook has also entered the PNS field by making its website and applications in such manner that it provides opportunity to people to connect in professional manner.
The biggest threat that LinkedIn has faced is the sustainability issues as its competitors are haunting it on the regularly manner and in order to remove them it is very important for them to expand their services. There are many benefits to company if they enter into the social media platform but them there will be no differentiation in the services of LinkedIn and platform. This will hamper the company by taking its capability to stand aside from rest of the companies (Corwin, 2014). It is one of the biggest issues that company is facing because if it will go to the social networking platform, all the competitive edge will be lost but it will able to attract more users. On the other hand if company remained professional then it will not be able to attract as many users but it will have its differentiation and competitive edge.
Chapter 3: Problem statement and plan of analysis
There are different numbers of models and theories that can easily explained the issues that company is facing. Some of the models that can be applied are:
Model of Walled Garden
As per Ingram, (2010) walled gardens have taken over a completely whole new lease of life in today’s world of application and social media. In this world of open platform, open API’s, social networks and share-all websites it has become very difficult for companies to choose whether to go for a closed platform or apply new and open platforms. LinkedIn is such company that follows walled garden model which is nothing but all about the ways to control the freedom of users. The main aim of companies is to get users to website, log in and stay put. This particular coveted control of the path to information or purchase is creating a paradigm shift in the open internet philosophies and therefore it has become of the main drivers behind the growing proliferation and the adoption of native application. As per e-CareManagement blog, (2010) a particular native website is a walled garden because once a user is logged into this website, they will typically stay unlike the other website where users hop from one page to other. By using this particular model, company provides very limited environment to which an unauthenticated user is given access and allowed to set up an account. Once the account is up, the user is allowed to leave the walled garden. In this model, user is directly restricted to certain content on a website and allowed to navigate only some particular areas. In case of LinkedIn, company controls the users by not letting them share the content of their website with the content of other social media platforms.
Open Platform Model
This type of model is followed by Facebook in which different set of services, tools and products provided by the social networking services allows developers to create their own applications and services that directly access the data from host website. The particular model offers a set of programming interface and tools which directly enables developers to integrate with the open social graph or the personal relations and other things like the songs, places and Facebook pages. It is one of the best models, that allows the users to be free and do whatever they want and share the data wherever they want. Users are able to personalize this platform as per them which attract them more and more towards these kinds of websites. Google is another company as per Confessions of a digital immigrant, (2011) which follows this kind of concept and it has helped them to generate lots of cash on the regular basis.
Theories related to PMS and SNS
There are different theories which directly relate the PMS and SNS companies as there are many people who support the company that operates on the platform of social media because it gives an advantage to users by making them friends with different users and discuss on lots of things. These SNS companies also allow users to share music, videos, photos and many more. It has helped the users to act beyond the boundary of professionalism and act in most appropriate manner. On the other hand there are some websites which are called as PMS which are meant for the people who only wants to maintain the professional relationship with the people they met over internet. These websites allow users to act in a certain manner by not giving them freedom to do many things which sometimes hinders the feeling of users (SearchSecurity, 2015).
There has been a long debate regarding the companies that operates over the PMS platform to come into the SNS platform because most of the SNS companies are coming over this professional platform by taking over the existing users of companies.
Proposed plan analysis
The proposed plan analysis for the case study of Linked Corporation is very easy and the steps that will be taken are mentioned below:
In this first the particular issues that company is facing will be written down appropriately so that context of the main issues can be understood appropriately. It will help the researcher to understand the case study in most appropriate manner and will also guide him to do better analysis.
The second part will deal with the mentioning of different models, theories and concepts that are related to the current topic in appropriate manner so that further information related to this topic can be analyzed appropriately.
Data will be collected from different sources and stored so that it can be studied and evaluated in order to develop different themes out of it and present it in most effective manner.
All these themes will be linked to the objectives and will also allow the researcher to present the crux for the report appropriately.
After this, complete findings that will be derived from these sources will be presented by solving out the dilemma that LinkedIn has been facing on the regular basis.
At the end, proper conclusions will be given and that will be linked to the aim of the report.
Sources of data
Data in this report will be directly collected from all the secondary sources because the report is completely qualitative in nature and numerical data will not help the researcher to bring out the desired results. Data in this report will be collected from different books, journals, internet articles by researching on the different models, theories that relates with the particular scenario in appropriate manner. This secondary data analysis will allow the researcher to act in most appropriate manner by fulfilling all the aims and objectives that have been discussed above.
- Computerhope.com. 2015. What is walled garden?. [Online]. Available through: <http://www.computerhope.com/jargon/w/walled-garden.htm>.
- Confessions of a digital immigrant. 2011. Now, the LinkedIn Walled Garden. [Online]. Available through: <https://subrataalpha.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/now-the-linkedin-walled-garden/>.
- Corwin, P., 2008. Linkedin Members No Longer in Walled Garden. [Online]. Available through: <http://howtostartasocialnetwork.com/2008/11/05/steps-outside-the-walled-garden-linkedin-expands-features/>.
- Corwin, P., 2014. Social Networks as Walled Gardens or Public Utilities? Part 17. [Online]. Available through: <http://howtostartasocialnetwork.com/2014/06/24/how-to-start-a-social-networking-website-part-17-whither-social-networks-walled-garden-or-public-utility-revenue-model/>.
- e-CareManagement blog. 2010. Walled Gardens vs. the Open Web: A Central Debate in Tech Finally Coming to Healthcare. [Online]. Available through: <http://e-caremanagement.com/walled-gardens-vs-the-open-web-a-central-debate-in-tech-finally-coming-to-healthcare/>.
- Gigaom.com. 2008. Notchup, LinkedIn, and the Walled Garden Dilemma. [Online]. Available through: <https://gigaom.com/2008/02/12/notchup-linkedin-and-the-walled-garden-dilemma/>.
- Ingram, M., 2010. Open vs. Closed: What Does Open Really Mean?. [Online]. Available through: <https://gigaom.com/2010/04/26/open-vs-closed-what-does-open-really-mean>.
- SearchSecurity. 2015. What is walled garden? - Definition from WhatIs.com. [Online].
- Techopedia.com. 2015. What is Walled Garden? - Definition from Techopedia. [Online]. Available through: <http://www.techopedia.com/definition/2541/walled-garden-technology>.