There was an app for that. You used to seduce your customers with gorgeous, compelling mobile apps. Now, they are looking for platforms instead: they want attractive markets, directly between producers and consumers of goods and services. Because of the network effect, these platforms can drive uninhibited growth, particularly when participants join in on all sides. If platforms are the place to be, it is key to understand where you —and your customers—fit in. Should you create your own platform? How do you incite participation? Or should you partner with existing ones? This time around, it’s platforms that will make, break, or entirely reverse your connection with customers.
- Platforms bring producers and consumers of goods and services in direct contact with one another, often while cutting out the middle-man. Typically, this interaction will involve a careful alignment of supply and demand, a comparison of features and prices, individualized suggestions, and social networking.
- They are typically enabled by a technology architecture that features data security and privacy, mobile applications, the IoT, open APIs for demand and supply sides, embedded analytics, AI, and social technology.
- Successful platform players create, stimulate, and guard positive network effects: they know what it takes to enchant demand, supply, and ecosystem partners.
- Platforms are already a fact of life for many consumers: AirBnB, HotelTonight, and Booking for lodging, Uber and Lyft for transport, Instacart for groceries, Kickstarter for funding, PayPal for payments, Etsy for design items, Tinder for dating, Alibaba for retail, and eBay for the quintessential personal marketplace.
- In the automotive world, the Mov'Inblue platform, built for connected vehicles and fleet management, is a very illustrative example of offering "asset-light" mobility to individuals through the on-demand allocation of cars and "virtual car keys," combined with advanced car usage analytics.
- More direct connections to customers thanks to a better understanding of their needs and preferences
- Efficiency improvements, a much more agile workforce, and the move towards a demand-driven supply chain
- New revenue opportunities as a result of newly-discovered unexplored markets and unaddressed consumers
- Entirely new business models that allow for disruptive consumer and partner interactions