Other Gadgets

The year that was, and could’ve been

Mahananda Bohidar | Updated on November 27, 2017

3D printing and smartphones rocked, but social media seemed to be in limbo

It’s that time of the year when we simultaneously look back at what has gone by and look forward to what’s next. This year, eventful as it was, in the world of technology, has left people wanting more, and wanting better, in the year to come.

Personal tech saw a lot of buzz with leaps in 3D printing, artificial intelligence, the continuing rise of bigger, slimmer, faster phones and the mass adoption of activity trackers.

Some old-standing tech was also put to sleep for e.g Orkut, the iPod Classic and (thankfully) the Facebook ‘Poke’ feature.

However, in social media, at least, things seemed pretty stagnant. The only new social networking site to create some excitement was Ello and the buzz promptly died down once everyone got a chance to register on the invite-only platform.

If there was anything that showed even lesser activity than regular social media, it was social media for professionals. We carried on with the good ol’ LinkedIn, which most people seem to frantically update only when trying to switch jobs or smugly, right after they have bagged a new one.

Unprofessional networks

Apart from Linkedin, there seems to be virtually no professional networking web sites, at best a couple of dodgy-looking job search portals. 2014 hasn’t brought any good news as far as this side of technology and social networking is concerned. With the lack of competition, it’s no wonder LinkedIn seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. Earlier this year, the social-networking service crossed the 300 million members’ mark, according to the web site, with more than 60 per cent of their users located outside of the United States.

There are some (much) smaller players in the market, but the future looks bleak for them. Biznik is a space for independent network owners to connect and share resources and referrals (not unlike LinkedIn). They flaunt themselves as being the exact opposite of “a room of hob-nobbing navy blue suits passing business cards void of authentic conversation”. After having been around for almost a decade, Biznik has decided to call it a day with the dawn of 2015.

There was the fairly popular BranchOut which a lot of Facebook users caught on to early this year. The web site can only be accessed if you have an active Facebook account. It scours your Facebook network to connect you to people you might want to network with. For a couple of months, you’d receive at least a couple of BranchOut invites on a daily basis. Now, people barely seem to remember it exists.

FB 2.0

The only bit of excitement landed late into the year when Reuters broke the news that Facebook itself is working on a platform that will solely connect professionals. ‘Facebook at Work’ will let users chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents. Some of the more familiar features such as the News Feed will be carried over from the current avatar of Facebook. The demarcation might be a boon for those who despise having to connect from people they’ve known only professionally. Also, in a world where you can expect every potential employer to look you up on Facebook and Twitter before they hire you, this platform could help build an image clean and desirable enough for a future employer.

In the meantime, with a very definite focus, LinkedIn has gone ahead and acquired Bizo, a proprietary data management and targeted technology outfit. Right now, business-to-business marketers use the service to identify potential clients and aid them through sales and marketing as well. But, this could be leveraged to benefit the common professional as well.

In 2015, it’d be great to see with the existing platforms of some new ones improving the way we’ve been connecting professionally on social media. Despite Linkedin and Facebook having been around for almost a decade, it’s for anyone to see that there’s so much more room for engagement and improvement for the business user. Last year, after having acquired Pulse (an award-winning news app), LinkedIn has integrated a news feed into its home page, and also uses the app to circulate opinion and articles written by a hand-picked list of influencers in the web space. This seemed to help the web site recover from a plunge in popularity this year. All we can hope is it outdoes itself and gives reason for competitors to do so themselves in the year ahead.

Published on December 24, 2014

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