Get your customers to co-create value using Platform Thinking

6 March 2020


Companies' online presence has developed rapidly over the last few years. It was not so long ago that it was innovative to share information through a website, perhaps managed in a centralized content management system (CMS). Now, we have advanced to an era where online communication and collaboration form the basis of a future-proof company. Innovation always needs to be on top of your mind, and taking a Platform Thinking approach can give organisations a substantial head start.

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.

platform thinking

The digital platform is the growth enabler

A digital platform, if it is implemented correctly, opens up a huge market for both your company and your end users. Using the latest technologies, you get an insight into your end users' behavior, which allows you to respond rapidly to changing needs in the marketplace. Experiences are shared via your digital platforms and social media, so that new customers find their way to your products and services more easily, and above all find each other. The increase in your online visibility and availability, and the ongoing interaction with your end users and partners create new opportunities and help companies to grow. Digital platforms give you the opportunity to build up a long-term relationship with a focus on communication and collaboration.

Some other benefits at a glance

Impact on the market overall:

  • Network effect: different users create content and add value for each other and for the platform.
  • Scalability: by escaping from infrastructure issues, companies can scale rapidly, both locally and internationally.
  • Asymmetrical growth: digital ecosystems create complementary markets and open up pathways to new opportunities.
  • Collective intelligence: effortless interaction and analysis of available data help companies to track customer expectations closely.

For companies:

  • Digital platforms attract a lot of end users and offer access to a wider market, making it easily accessible at a relatively low cost.
  • Brand awareness and an ideal, multichannel user experience improve the digital image.
  • Building up relationships with customers more swiftly enriches a company's online presence.
  • Insights into customer behavior offer the opportunity to react quickly to changing trends.

For end users:

  • Usually free of charge, or involve a lowcost membership.
  • Modern platforms are easy to use and offer a direct view of a broad spectrum of products and services.
  • Prices of products and services tend to be lower because of internal competition and lower operating costs.
  • Platforms offer seamless logistics and customer tracking experiences.

You can be an enabler for your customers, too

Would you also like to find out what changes you need to make to become future-proof? Does your business model still match your customers' expectations? Platform Thinking, adapted to fit your context, could be the answer. We would be happy to walk through our Customer Experience Roadmap with you.

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