Last Thursday LinkedIn unveiled its plan to build the world's first economic graph. 

Its building blocks, for now, will come from the data and data exhaust of its members as they create and maintain their professional profiles, build and engage with their networks, publish and consume content, join groups, peruse and pursue jobs, and update their skills on LinkedIn's brand new learning platform (more on that below).

Multiply those interactions across the professional network's 450 million members and the possibilities for identifying impactful, actionable insights are huge, whether you're an individual worker, an employer or a marketer.

When Microsoft completes its acquisition of LinkedIn in a few months' time, the economic graph will gain access to the data gleaned from the 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users worldwide. 

LinkedIn's 'Economic Opportunity'

The graph will offer unparalleled opportunities for marketers, because unlike Facebook's social graph, Mountain View, Calif.-based LinkedIn's will be filled with information about companies and the individuals inside them in the context of work.

If you're a data scientist or data analyst reading this, you're probably thinking about nodes, edges and properties and crafting queries that might bring new value into the world.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and his team have no doubt done the same, but what they've come up with sounds more like a United Nations initiative than a straight-out marketing ploy.

LinkedIn's vision, said Weiner, is to "create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce." And by "every member," he meant everyone from a Madison Avenue marketer in New York City, to a FinTech manager in London, to the millennial in India who just downloaded the LinkedIn app specifically built for 2G phones.

Needless to say, LinkedIn's vision is big and broad.

Preparing Today's Workforce for Tomorrow's Economy

Weiner said that, in time, LinkedIn's economic graph will have six dimensions: 

  1. A profile for every one of the world's 3 billion workers (including those who will soon enter the workforce), 
  2. A profile for every company on the planet, 
  3. A digital representation of every job role at those companies,
  4. A digital representation of every skill required to obtain those jobs, 
  5. The coursework required to get those skills and 
  6. A digital representation of every institution of higher education.

LinkedIn Economic Graph dimensions

LinkedIn plans to use all of this data to help people identify and obtain the skills they will need to work in the future economy. The time is right because, according to the World Economic Forum, technology will displace five million of today’s jobs by 2020. 

In his presentation Weiner offered another startling statistic: 78 percent of CFO's believe that technology will replace up to a quarter of today's jobs by 2020.

Learning Opportunities

While Weiner stopped short of predicting a crisis, he did express an urgency to connect intellectual, human and economic capital, "to lift and transform the global economy.”

It sounds almost like something Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella might say in his keynote at Microsoft Ignite Monday afternoon. Weiner’s boss-to-be typically gives inspirational speeches that celebrate the possibilities that the digital revolution can bring to humankind rather than directly hawking products like SQL Server, Microsoft Dynamics, Power BI and such.

Weiner left it to LinkedIn's Vice President of Global Consumer Products Ryan Roslansky to go into specifics around things like the overhaul of LinkedIn's flagship desktop product (simpler, cleaner more intuitive); improved messaging capabilities (including a bot that can schedule meetings for you); an Interest Feed (it pushes content it thinks you should be aware of toward you) and the launch of LinkedIn Learning.

LinkedIn Learning

The newly launched LinkedIn Learning combines content from its 2015 buy with insights gleaned from LinkedIn's professional network data and delivers recommendations on what courses from over 9,000 might help you stay on top in your field.

And the courses aren't too expensive or too shabby. Who wouldn't want to learn branding from Warby Parker's Neil Blumenthal, or how to create great workplace habits from Gretchen Rubin author of "Better Than Before: What I Learned about Making and Breaking Habits: to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life"?

Everyone Wins?

At the end of the day, LinkedIn wants to become the digital home of the global workforce. It's a play that falls completely in line with Microsoft's stated goal, as the then newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella expressed it at his company's Worldwide Partners Conference in 2014. 

"(We will) reinvent productivity so that every individual on the planet can get more out of every moment of their lives is a great mission. That is what we need to go solve. That is where we get to add value,"Nadella said.

And as long as we benefit from that value, in ways that are meaningful to us, then LinkedIn and LinkedIn plus Microsoft are rife with interesting possibilities.

Title image Johan Mouchet