Think of an onion – as you peel it, layer by layer, it starts to unpack a lot of punch.
Traditional business models center around single-stream processes, which they manage and execute inhouse. It often creates bottlenecks and increases dependencies. But more importantly, it has an adaptability problem with changing customer demands.
Artificial Intelligence and other technologies are enabling significant changes in the economy. Now the time is ripe to make transformative changes; hence business as a platform!
The core idea
Typically, the platform business model suggests that you need to facilitate exchange between consumers and producers. By definition, it implies and relies on other entities apart from the business itself. It also suggests that platform businesses do not own production assets.
However, this is a different paradigm. Here, businesses that own production assets do not need to relinquish them. Instead, repurpose and augment them differently.
For example, AWS and Microsoft use a similar business model inhouse. They use their assets in two ways – one, to run their own business, and two, to sell these assets to their customers. In software parlance, we say, “eating your own dog food.”
Businesses that own production assets do not need to relinquish them, just repurpose and augment them differently.
The best analogy to understand this idea is to think about how your computer is structured. The first layer is an operating system that provides device-level access to hardware resources such as a printer, mouse, etc. The second layer is a higher-level operating system that eases user-access through a graphical user interface. With these two layers in place, you can install any compatible software or app of your choice on this laptop, and this is the third layer. A fourth layer could exist in terms of services for each of those apps and add-ons.
For a business as a platform, it could mean that the management, partner relations, technology & systems, and access to assets could form the core layer. The next layer will be in the form of expertise and movable resources, involving labor, experts, technology assets, etc. This layer can be equivalent to a lightweight SBU (strategic business unit). Once they achieve their goal, the team can disperse and reorganize for the next target. The outer-most layer can be various services you provide as a business, through movable groups and systems.
A few benefits
While aligning the business as a platform can give better control over costs, it will also enable better utilization of assets, especially when you have AI and digital infrastructure in the mix.
Having the right mix of assets will enable a high degree of agility. In-turn, it will help people to work together and achieve challenging jobs much more quickly.
Treating business as a platform means multiple products and services can come out of different teams. They all can coexist and serve users – internal users and external customers, both.
Of course, the first step would be to assess your business and see how much it aligns with this concept. See if it would make sense for your business in the future. And if it does, pilot it for one unit. Once you are comfortable, expand the scope with more groups. Repeat till you transform.
Think of an onion; again! When you build the business as a platform, it will have a similar punch to take on with the competition, enable the future of work, and help you adapt quickly and survive in turbulent times.
Business as a platform will help you adapt quickly and survive in turbulent times.
About the author
Anand Tamboli is an entrepreneur, award-winning author, global speaker, futurist, and highly sought after thought leader. He works with organizations that want to transform into a sustainable brand with creative and innovative employees. Anand specializes in areas that intersect with technology and people. Being a polymath, he can often shed new light on a topic that you think has been “done to death.” Having worked with several Fortune 500 multinationals for the past two decades, Anand draws upon his cross-industry and multi-cultural experience.