Having seen how LinkedIn serves as a marketplace for labour, connecting both the supply and demand of labour, we now look at how the data that LinkedIn contains can ignite different areas of research and decision-making. In this final post on the series on LinkedIn, which began here, we cover the applications of LinkedIn’s data to its fulfilment of economic ambitions. The Economist, in its article, Workers of the world, log in, has presented a host of such opportunities.
Such opportunities arise because of the abundance of data that LinkedIn will eventually acquire as more users sign up. However, it will become essential to “mine” this data for patterns and insights. The practice of data mining, as it is known in the technological world, will become a focus of LinkedIn’s insights team to derive patterns from information that resides with LinkedIn. Data analysis and mining will open up not only new avenues for LinkedIn, but also present opportunities for research and exploration for better understanding of the labour market.
Alumni connections and patterns
School and college information will abound once an entire geography becomes active on LinkedIn. As that happens, LinkedIn can display patterns to help its users make sense of that data. Current and prospective students can find information about alumni. They can find out trends of work location, companies, job profiles and so on, based on the school and/or college they attend. If prospective students are able to glean such information, they can make better decisions about whether to pursue that college or switch to a different one.
On the other hand, alumni can also scan the site to either recruit talent from their alma-mater or compare their career paths with those of their ‘juniors’. As The Economist states:
Those who graduated years ago can do the same for their classmates, and laugh or weep accordingly.
Expansion strategy and new locations
Organisations can use data about labour markets to make decisions about their long-term strategies and goals. As more companies become global, they need information about labour markets across national boundaries and the skill sets abundant within these markets. LinkedIn’s data can provide better insights into the supply of labour in particular locations, the skills people there possess and the colleges and universities in an area from where future labour can be accessed.
For instance, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Gurgaon and Pune are well-known cities in India that attract a lot of talent in the technology sector. With most foreign companies now settled there, they are a hotbed for Venture Capitalists, who have shown increasing interest to fund the start-ups emerging from these cities. The rising number of technological start-ups, coupled with the availability of VCs, draws in hordes of people with the requisite skills to prosper in these cities. The supply of labour, as a result, in these cities, is much more technologically oriented than, say, in a city such as Sanand in Gujarat, where Tata Motors, one of the largest automotive makers in India, draws in pools of people for the manufacturing industry.
Such knowledge is immensely beneficial for companies that wish to grow and expand operations. They use LinkedIn to mine information about markets and then decide where to open new offices or factories, based on where the required skills are. As The Economist quotes:
[…] in eradicating the mismatch between the skills people have and those employers want, or between the places jobs are on offer and those where people live. By looking at the skills on offer – at least among the network’s members – and demand for them in different parts of the United States, LinkedIn’s data scientists can identify “hidden gems” where there are plenty of potentially suitable employees but little competition for their services.
Extensive academic research on LinkedIn’s data has not yet been carried out, but as it accumulates data, LinkedIn will itself warrant more academic interest. Though research is nascent in the field, it will transition to a more specific segment – labour economics in the digital world. Economists and researchers will cling to the data available from LinkedIn to “compare the career paths of those who graduate in recessions with those who graduate in booms”. Such insights might prove handy to remodel theories in labour economics and better suggest newer models.
At the end of the day, a start-up to connect people through their professional network might end up altering the landscape of the recruitment industry. It may permanently drive up the value of labour efficiency and global employment. Such aspirations are mind-numbing. But they do not seem to be too far-fetched to be true. They could become a reality in the not-so-distant future.