Social media and mobile apps have become the norm, and information is shared worldwide using the latest technologies. Websites adapt themselves to their visitors, contact with end users is made more interactive using intelligent chatbots or speech technology, and AR and VR will soon be available. This trend gives companies the opportunity to grow and create sustainable relationships with their customers. At the same time, it is really challenging to extend these experiences, that involve both online and offline facets, while keeping control of them.
Platform Thinking – a unique combination of data, technology and community
Almost all companies nowadays have a website, a customer portal or an e-commerce environment. Technology is deployed in order to give customers a pleasant user experience, and data is collected in order to keep improving this experience.
A platform approach adds a further dimension to this. Technology and data are combined with a social approach. In a Platform Thinking business model, focus is on the interaction between the producer and the consumer. The organization supplies products or services, and also offers their customers the opportunity and means to not only consume the products, but also to create some added value themselves. By building up an active community like this, organizations evolve into a full ecosystem integrating technological, economic and social elements.
This approach is at the heart of a lot of well-known and successful companies. Let's take a look at a well-known example in the tourism sector. A traditional approach would start with building more hotels if demand appears to be outstripping supply. The model we are talking about looks at the problem from a different angle, forcing you to think outside the box and think creatively. If there are no longer enough hotels to house all the tourists, why not allow anyone with a spare bedroom or a comfortable sofa the opportunity to create their own B&B at home?
OK, it's a big example, but at the end of the day this is what Platform Thinking comes down to. A digital environment with complex integrations and a variety of systems and data is made available to a community in an accessible way, and users get involved with creating value for the community and the organization.