Platform economy: plugging your business into new ecosystems

  • Posted on March 10, 2017

Over the past couple of years there has been much talk about borderless computing, which provides businesses with the ability to reach outside their walls to expand digital solutions and plug into emerging business platforms. Progress in this area is evolving and the opportunity to drive better value to customers and access new and larger markets is better than ever.

I think about ecosystems of interconnected services every day in my own home when using things like the “skills” available through my Amazon Echo. Over 7,000 skills now exist, which are new endpoints for countless businesses to bring their services to customers in new ways. The Samsung SmartThings hub in my house integrates with the Echo as a skill, and in turn, is a point of integration to a ton of smart sensors, lights and devices from dozens of other companies.

This model of businesses needing to work together to reach more customers is becoming pervasive. These same kinds of platforms and ecosystems are emerging in all industries, including healthcare, utilities and automotive.

I think there are three key areas of focus to ensure that every business is prepared to participate in the Platform Economy, which is one of the themes of Avanade’s Technology Vision 2017:

  1. Evaluate how you will access and serve your customers and partners in the future.

New avenues of access to markets and interaction with your existing customers and business partners are expanding. A few you need to consider and be prepared for include:

  • Virtual assistants - Cortana, Alexa, Siri and Google are the leading assistant platforms at the moment, but this list will likely expand with new entrants and we will also see de facto standards emerge.
  • Things - Smart devices, appliances and cars will be endpoints for services where your customers expect you to be as well.
  • Automated agents and systems - Endpoints will come in many forms. Consider the automated integrations and even artificial intelligence (AI) endpoints in your planning model for where your services need to be consumed.
  1. Continue to “API enable” your business.

Ensuring that your current and future business service interfaces are flexible and ready to be integrated into new endpoints is an ongoing challenge. Evaluate your services portfolio now through the lens of digital integration into emerging platforms and new digital endpoints, and ensure that they are well managed and maintained.

  1. Embrace disruptive ecosystem technologies for competitive advantages.

With the expanding platforms and ecosystems, we are seeing some enabling and potentially disruptive related technology emerge and grow. Three key disruptive technologies to watch and build on over the next few years are:

  • Blockchain - This open, shared ledger technology has the potential to be a key unifying transaction protocol for many classes of trading partners.
  • IoT - With growth on track to reach 30 billion devices and $470 billion in hardware, software and services by 2020, IoT is a juggernaut.
  • Artificial Intelligence - A broad umbrella of algorithms, technology and solutions, AI has the potential to bring ecosystems to life in a few ways. AI will both empower digital business services through automation and business intelligence and act as virtual consumers of those services.

Check out our 2017 Tech Vision for more details on the Platform Economy and other key themes, and contact me to learn how we are working with clients around the world on each of the areas above. I look forward to hearing from you.

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