Successful connections within the platform economy
People have always sought to connect with one another. In prehistoric times there was safety in numbers. Living together in communities made them stronger and significantly increased the chances of survival. However, prehistoric communities formed on a relatively small scale and human interaction was limited. Today’s interconnectedness has exponentially increased on all levels of society. The digitisation of society has allowed people, businesses, and organisations to be more connected. In response to increasing interconnectedness, flexible platforms have risen, bringing people, organisations, products & services from around the world together. These platforms strengthen our connections and find better ways to meet the rising demands of consumers. Consequently, this forms the basis of the ‘platform economy’. Daniël van den Hoven, VP Partners & Alliances at financial technology firm Onguard, will explain what a platform economy is in this article. Furthermore, he will explore what the conditions are for running a platform successfully.
Platform economy and IT
Platforms are digital intermediaries that bring demand and supply together in an effective and simple way. As well as being a practical solution, research by TNO shows that platforms are also good earners. One in eight Dutch consumers have made money through a digital platform, like Bol.com, Airbnb or Marktplaats. Within IT too, more and more platforms are available, in which links with and integration between systems are essential. Nowadays, organisations use digital business applications to support their business processes. Where in the past these applications worked in isolation, organisations are increasingly building platforms using proprietary solutions. One example is Salesforce: their cloud platform offers a whole range of applications for sales, marketing, customer contact and co-operation. The applications are integrated with centralised data, ensuring efficiency within organisations.
“Strengthening each other and meeting customer’s needs is the basis of what we call platform economy today.”
DANIËL VAN DEN HOVEN
Conditions for a successful platform
To make an IT platform successful, there are three key conditions an organisation needs to be aware of:
- Technical: sync solutions both internally and externally. The integration of systems is of key importance to enable data to be shared. For example, by connecting systems via APIs or web services, you create a hybrid platform where the organisation’s applications and those of third parties can run in tandem.
- Commercial: it is important to make agreements with stakeholders within the platform; who is responsible for what and what is the financial picture?
- Legal: when several parties are working in conjunction, clear agreements need to be made about who is responsible for which part of the platform. So, should the platform not be working for whatever reason, it is important to know who is responsible for assisting the customer. By working through scenarios like this one, there can be absolute clarity ahead of time about who does what. There are currently no standards in this respect, so the advice is to go with the expertise and experience of the leading partner in the IT platform.
Keeping these factors in mind when building an IT platform or entering into a partnership brings the likelihood of success that much closer. Making connections and co-operating form the basis of an efficient organisation that can aim to be more customer-focused.
Want to know more about the opportunities and risks of IT platforms in today’s world? Read our next blog, where Daniël reveals more information on IT platforms.