There are three business types that lend themselves to becoming a platform – infrastructure management businesses, product innovation and commercialization businesses, and customer relationship businesses [from John Hagel’s post here].
Infrastructure platforms involve high volume, routine processing kinds of activities that focus on aggregating participants, and transactions.
These are platforms like Amazon’s AWS and those provided by telcos and hosting faculties. These platforms tend to be asset-intensive businesses driven by a cost-focused efficiency culture. Their focus is to drive down cost per transaction without compromising on quality and reliability, providing the foundation for building and scaling a cloud-based product platform.
The next platform up the stack type of is a product innovation and commercialization platform. These platforms mobilize a large number of third parties to add value in a specific business domain. They focus on defining and developing core functionality in a product domain as a foundation for a range of variations to address specific customer needs. The product platform provider focuses on rapidly evolving the foundation elements to enhance the ability of participants to develop more and more variations.
Product platforms are different from infrastructure platforms. Product platforms focus developing and evolving core functionality that matters to more specialized product vendors and enabling those products to be integrated into a holistic customer solution. It requires a deep understanding of, and connection with, creative product and service developers to anticipate their needs. Product platforms “understand” the business context of their usage which enables them to evolve predictive data services, helping their customers to anticipate potential issues and opportunities related to routine operations. Product platforms enable customers to automate “simple” problem solutions and analyze “complicated” problems to find solutions. They provide service providers with a consistent platform for service delivery and are a key enabler for customer relationship platforms.
Customer relationship platforms focus on developing a deeper understanding of individual customers and using this knowledge to connect them with the products and services that create the most value for them. It performs as a “trusted advisor” focused on helping customers, providing both the products and services needed to address their needs. These tend to be hands-on businesses that can read individual customer contexts in great detail and, based on this information, anticipate and address customer needs. They also build and sustain trust making customers comfortable in sharing information about themselves.
For some customers, a cyber defense product platform will perform the role of a customer relationship platform. Others will want a managed security services provider (MSSP), which will need a cyber defense product platform to scale and support consistent services. This is where MSSPs will grow and thrive – connecting and tailoring a cyber product platform to their customer’s specific needs.