What is Platform Strategy and Why Does it Matter?

As online technology continues to rapidly advance, the options for creating and building digital platforms are expanding and becoming more complex. These digital advances are both creating opportunities and challenges for modern enterprises. As a solution, many organizations are starting to focus more on optimizing their platform strategy. In an effort to help, let’s examine what platform strategy is and why it matters.

What is Platform Strategy?

An article on MIT Sloan School of Management called: “Platform strategy, explained”, written on Jun 16, 2017¬†by Zach Church, defines platform and platform strategy:

Platforms are environments, computing or otherwise, that connect different groups and derive benefits from others participating in the platform.

…A platform strategy is an approach to entering a market which revolves around the task of allowing platform participants to benefit from the presence of others.

An organization’s platform strategy determines how they deliver value to their target audience. As the options for delivering value increase with advances in cloud, mobile, and social media environments, the need for optimizing delivery and accessibility are increasing too.

Platform strategy encompasses the technical IT aspects of choosing and optimizing digital platforms, as well as the strategic aspects of defining their purpose and how they work together to provide value.

An article on Gartner called: “Every Organization Needs a Digital Platform Strategy”, written on Nov. 8, 2016 by Kasey Panetta, explains:

Regardless of the setup, the strategy must integrate business and IT needs and establish a collective leadership vision. Companies must decide what makes sense for their organization and long-term business goals.

Platform strategy encompasses the brand vision of modern enterprises and correlates closely with their strategic business goals. The main difference is platform strategy works to determine the type of digital platforms being developed, including how services are delivered, what partnerships are sought, and what integration capabilities are made available to users.

Developing a platform strategy includes asking questions such as:

    • What partnerships will add value to platforms?
    • How will target audiences interact with platforms?
    • How value/offerings are monetized on platforms?
    • How agile are the platforms?
    • What expansion capabilities are needed with platforms?
    • How well do platforms integrate with each other and related systems?
    • What digital environments to operate in?

The aforementioned MIT Sloan School of Management article gives an example of an effective platform strategy with Google Play Apps, which allows third-party developers to offer free and paid apps to Android users. The effective platform strategy of partnering with Google Play Apps has catapulted Android past former smartphone giants such as Nokia and BlackBerry.

Android’s platform strategy to bring value to users, by facilitating the streamlined connection between them and third-party app developers through a marketplace mobile app, has paid off significantly.

Essentially, platform strategy is the process of developing the fundamental structure for an organization’s online efforts. It works to define how they deliver and monetize their value offerings, integrate partnerships, allow room for agile growth, and optimally organize their IT infrastructure.

Why Does Platform Strategy Matter?

As stated in the intro, the rapid advances of online technology are creating both opportunities and challenges for modern enterprises; this is especially true for existing organizations with legacy systems in place. Essentially, organizations want to avoid having to completely restructure their IT infrastructure to accommodate expansion and growth in the future.

Start-ups have the advantage of developing their fundamental platforms with cloud, social, and mobile in mind, yet with the rapid pace of innovation, they also must emphasize the importance of developing an optimal platform strategy.

An article found on Deloitte Insights called: “The power of platforms”, written by John Hagel April 15, 2015, explains:

Properly designed business platforms can help create and capture new economic value and scale the potential for learning across entire ecosystems.

Platforms help to make resources and participants more accessible to each other on an as-needed basis. Properly designed, they can become powerful catalysts for rich ecosystems of resources and participants.

Gaining online traction and conversions has a lot to do with the platform strategy developed and employed by modern enterprises, rather than the nominal products and services being offered. How value is being delivered has become even more important in our advanced digital world, as the mediums used continue to expand and become more interactive.

The aforementioned Gartner article explains more:

With more than 30 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, the complexity will only increase, and CIOs will play an integral role in setting the framework for businesses.

…As business ecosystems expand, the complexity of the supporting architecture will increase. CIOs should work with business partners to figure out what scenarios are likely for the future of digital platforms and select the type of platform architecture needed to support future plans.

While predicting future online technology innovations isn’t easy, developing an agile IT infrastructure that can accommodate multiple growth scenarios will bring optimal results. This may include outsourcing, restructuring, shifting operational focus, optimizing existing systems, choosing different vendors, etc.

Developing an effective platform strategy matters because it saves modern enterprises the time, resources, and effort involved with restructuring their fundamental digital platforms. Existing organizations with outdated legacy systems will inevitably fall behind platform-optimized start-ups if they can’t deliver the same level of value to target audiences.

Essentially, the sooner organizations develop a platform strategy that reflects the modern digital landscape, the more they’ll benefit from future innovations and avoid the need to fundamentally restructure their mature IT infrastructures. This strategic planning will allow start-ups and existing organizations to focus on increasing the value of their offerings, rather than constantly addressing bottlenecks in operational workflows.

Conclusion

The rapid innovation of online technology is creating the need for modern enterprises to develop an effective platform strategy, in order to avoid costly IT restructuring with legacy systems and optimally deliver value to target audiences.

In the future, an organization’s ability to grow and expand will heavily depend on the effectiveness of their platform strategy; while quality offerings will always be important, the strategic ways they’re delivered will make the difference in an expansive, global digital landscape.

The IT complexities involved with developing an effective platform strategy can be a challenge for many organizations. These challenges can be alleviated by partnering with unbiased IT expertise that has experience in developing effective platform strategies for modern enterprises. If interested in learning more please contact Ndevr today.