LinkedIn is internally testing an enterprise offering

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, attended a Morgan Stanley technology conference yesterday, and stirred the waters with more information about the corporate social network the company has been hinting at for some time. Apparently, the firm is testing out a new offering internally, as Jennifer Van Grove reports at C|Net:

Weiner used the phrase “eat at our own restaurant” — to stand in for the term “dogfooding” used by other companies — to explain that the social network for professionals is currently internally testing a private-sharing option that works behind the corporate firewall and helps enterprises share privately.

What these enterprise, private-sharing tools look like or do exactly is still very much a mystery, but it certainly seems as if LinkedIn hopes to turn enterprise employee rolodexes, accumulated from years of activity on the site, into more active recruiting and lead-qualifying assets. Weiner also suggested that his company could help enterprises with search, and help people inside a company gain and share access to additional information on members, data not available to others.

Sounds like the beginnings of a customer relationship management system or private corporate social network, doesn’t it? Yammer and Salesforce, beware.

LinkedIn has been moving steadily in this direction, acquiring Rapportive and Connected as two piece of its enterprise social puzzle in recent years.

My bet is that LinkedIn will release a product that allows corporate to share information internally, for example for HR purposes. But I am wondering is this will also extend to a company-to-company interaction capability, like the Open Work model I discussed on Sunday (see Open Work is the next high water mark for social business):

Open Work will play at the boundary [between open and closed communications], so that companies can have the safety and security of work media solutions for much of their communications and coordination of work. But there will be an added element: the ability to publish some information to the wider community, including unknown potential contributors and partners, and to receive messages back as well.

LinkedIn is in the perfect position to pursue this, since they already support a semi-private network of business professional, and they have no existing legacy products in the corporate side.

I will see if I can get a briefing from some one in LinkedIn to make sense of their direction.