Platforms providing an easier life
These days, a world without platforms has become unthinkable. In my previous blog, I examined the added value platforms bring for consumers, but also for IT departments. Platforms become successful and thrive by listening closely to customers and end users to identify their needs. A good example is Bol.com. Customers don’t want to have to click through from website to website; doing everything on one platform is much preferable. Customers want to conduct business with a single supplier and like the fact that the supplier bundles everything: ordering, payment and delivery. Another example is Bloomon: they have their own platform on which customers can order, pay and have sent fresh flowers.
End users within the B2B environment are also looking for specific features when it comes to the use of platforms. They do not want to have to switch between applications to copy and paste information onto another screen. Instead, they expect the correct information to be centrally held in the system. Using a platform fulfils all these requirements and delivers a host of added benefits.
In this blog, we look at the pros and cons of using B2B platforms.
“Strengthening each other and meeting customer’s needs is the basis of what we call platform economy today.” – Daniël van den Hoven
Benefits of using platforms
The use of platforms within B2B impacts organisations and business models and brings several benefits:
- Greater transparency: their creation has brought about greater transparency, with respect to the end user and other organisations.
- 360° customer view: better customer and/or end user service levels. By using a platform, organisations gain insight into customer behaviour to create a 360° customer view. This gives visibility into customers’ needs so that they can be approached in a personalised way.
- Greater potential for integration: the technology that runs online platforms is based on open standards, which allow people to share data freely and with perfect accuracy. This makes connecting third party applications much easier, so that organisations can widen and enhance their services quickly and easily to their customers.
- Increased productivity: working with others on a platform increases productivity as copying data becomes a thing of the past. Furthermore, the integration of applications allows for better collaboration between colleagues. Employee satisfaction is therefore improved.
- Less work for IT departments: due to the straightforward system of links on platforms, an IT department can spend much less time on maintaining links.
Having said all that, there are some cons to consider. There are undoubtedly pitfalls to working with platforms, but I firmly believe that many of these can be avoided.
- Data storage: platforms collect a great deal of data, but it is not always clear to users of the platform what happens to all this data. Ensure there is clear communication and security measures in place to guarantee information is only shared through authorised channels.
- Influencing behaviour: platforms collect a fair amount of data regarding the customer or end user and could use this to influence behaviour. Therefore, it is important to have a Code of Conduct in place and to operate in a transparent manner with respect to users to avoid unethical behaviour.
- Vendor lock-in: a single all-encompassing IT platform could lead to vendor lock-in. Changing suppliers could potentially be costly or cause inconvenience for the consumer. However, this is less relevant in the case of technology platforms where several suppliers work together.
The benefits of working with platforms are clear. There are undoubtedly pitfalls to be aware of, but if you ask me, the benefits of what a platform provides outweigh the negatives. Make sure there is due consideration for partners on a platform and make clear agreements. Once that is set, a successful platform is guaranteed!