Probably quite a few people were surprised at the announcement of LinkedIn forming a ‘content distribution and technology integration’ partnership with CNBC. Quite a lot of people have experienced LinkedIn as an early, and still leading, example of bringing together people in Business Networks, but it seems difficult to make the connection from this to a news channel. On the other hand LinkedIn has been preparing its position and financing to move forward and develop its market.
I believe I will be right in saying that most of us, (yup I tend to do it too), have a ‘channel’ mindset still where success in doing more business has been created by using the Internet and the Web as a method to take our existing products/service to reach new markets. As the number of products / services in the market expand this has become more and more competitive, and has led to better tailoring of the offers, or combinations of offers to create a new market product.

In parallel with this the term ‘context awareness’ is used to make sure that we can get the relationships and alignments we are looking for in the huge amount of information on offer today. Curiously enough as we increasingly introduce the use of people centric capabilities I have not heard the term ‘People Awareness’ used very much though IBM have this feature in Websphere Portal, but this is linked to machines. In effect what LinkedIn provides is the ability purely around people, creating the links between people who share something in common and making them aware of each other within that context.
If you look at CNBC and LinkedIn you can recognise that they both target roughly the same people in business professionals who on one hand will want, or need to know WHAT is going on, and on the other with WHOM are things happening. There is likely to be a big overlap between the two situations in the form of what I would refer to as EVENTS. The industry is using the term ‘event’ increasingly to indicate something happening that is a trigger to some activity that needs to happen in response to the situation. This may be proactive to reap an advantage from something happening, or reactive to recover from something causing a problem. Dan Nye their CEO explained this on his corporate blog.
Unless we are talking about programmed responses such as computerised trading in financial markets, a dangerous example of pure machine responses, an event will be based on people driving the response. So combining a News Channel with People Networks doesn’t look so odd when you analyse this, in fact it looks down right sensible. However as with all of these things the devil will lie in the detail of how the integration works. In other words I can use both CNBC and LinkedIn today so i will need to understand why combining them will create a better and more valuable service.
Since both are money makers, and sector leaders today, this is no defensive move, they clearly believe that they will attract either more revenues from the result; this could be advertising given increased eyeballs for each; or it could be the result cross selling services to each others’ communities; or dare I suggest it might just be such a compelling proposition that as well as these two outcomes there will be a third that the new combination will create enough new value that it will attract people who currently subscribe to neither?
It’s possible that combining the news that will kick off events with the people who will react to events to think that it might create a whole new market of being able to offer ‘service’ from third parties aligned to the events and actions. Now that really would be something could it be something like an airline goes bust, and those about to travel or in the travel business immediately get proactively offered alternative seats with other airlines? What ever this is a development in the market place and in Business Models to make you think outside the current channel and partnership strategy one side and the conventional use of business ‘networking’ on the other.