Digital platform elements

Elements of a Digital Platform that creates Value

I have been studying about platforms for sometime now. I wrote about the transforming business model of the platform enabled web. How traditional business model used the already present resources to create a platform, where the new product was not the product itself but the Platform which became a product. Like we have known, a platform enabled ecosystem sets the rules of how the business is supposed to be ruled by the leaders, provides a direction and brings together people who provide value to each other.

But before we put together an ecosystem, we need to understand what makes a platform and changes ecosystem. To successfully build a platform there is a lot to be learnt and unlearnt. For a change in business model and make a platform, there has to be a vision which looks at the broader aspects of a problem and aims to solve it. A platform always caters to the larger audience. For establishing a functional platform, a clear understanding of the business and technology is fundamental to its success.

Platforms mostly focus on reusing resources and sharing it among common elements in a network.  Most platform definitions focus on the reuse or sharing of common elements across complex products or systems of production. It has an architecture that enables features to be added or existing ones to be removed.

To build a platform that adds value and enables businesses or individuals to connect is a challenging task. To design a platform, it is an absolute necessary to keep the vision in place. The core value that is the driving force of the platform. For Amazon, it is to connect sellers and buyers, establish a place or platform for their interaction. This should be inevitable and the most important aspect that will shape the platform.
A platform will necessarily consist of a few elements like the following :

  • Infrastructure
  • Roles and rules
  • Network
  • Data

The infrastructure is the skeleton and backbone of any platform. It will be the product of the platform. For Uber it is the main phone application that acts as an infrastructure along with its main mission and values. The roles and rules make the platform a functional entity and the network acts as a matchmaker to bring on drivers and riders to the platform. In all of these data acts as the heart of the operation and makes it moving forward.

The future will see more and more transformation of traditional businesses and products into platforms. That will build services and ad values instead of tapping on our pockets like products do.

But the underlying question to all of these remain as to how would you create a platform that adds value?