The platform model underlies the success of many of today’s biggest, fastest-growing and most powerfully disruptive companies, from Google, Amazon and Microsoft to Airbnb, Uber and eBay. Platforms are beginning to transform a range of economic and social arenas, from healthcare and education to energy and government.
Written by Arne Mjøs, CEO Itera
The opportunities offered by the platform model are now opening up to every company in every industry. Finn.no, Vipps and Veracity (DNV GL’s industry platform) are three well-known examples from Norway.
There are two parts to the platform model, namely platform business models and intelligent technology platforms, with platform business models enabled by intelligent technology platforms.
Platform business models
A platform business model brings together consumers and producers and allows them to exchange information, goods or services on the one hand and money on the other. Such a platform creates communities and markets with network effects that allow users to interact and transact.
Investors value platforms more highly than traditional businesses. Seven of the ten largest companies by market capitalization are platform organisations. About 60% of today’s billion-dollar “unicorn” startups are platform businesses. The digital economy will represent 25% of the world’s entire economy by 2020.
Business leaders across all industries are recognizing the opportunities presented by platforms in terms of generating new kinds of growth, and they are rethinking the traditional roles their companies play from a platform perspective.
Intelligent technology platforms
Cloud-based technology platforms are key enablers for platform businesses. In fact, many companies are accelerating their adoption of intelligent cloud technologies as a crucial first step towards breaking into the platform world.
Today, cloud-based technology platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS) include features and functionality that used only to be available to large companies. This democratization of technology is ensuring that any business – whether a startup or a small or large business – can take advantage of sophisticated technology due to the products and services being more affordable and user-friendly.
These products and services include massive data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing. New voice user interfaces such as Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are all based on cloud technology.
According to predictions from Cisco, cloud data centres will virtually replace traditional data centres within a few years. Cloud technology is disrupting the IT-industry itself, and it offers far higher levels of virtualization, standardization, automation and security than traditional data centres.
In addition, the processing power inside IoT devices is accelerating as a result of recent innovations in edge computing. Rather than data having to go to the cloud to be processed and then sent back out to a device, data can also be collected and analysed on and between devices. For instance, an autonomous car and a set of traffic lights can communicate with each other directly, rather than via the cloud.
Technology platforms comply with every international security standard and are enabling edge computing and the massive growth of IoT devices and sensors. To become a digital business, new technology platforms are the only option as no traditional data centres are designed for this new digital world.
Digital models of the physical world: only the beginning
The IoT is transforming one industry after another, driving massive growth in the adoption of connected and intelligent devices as a strong foundation for new use cases. We are now reaching a tipping point where digital twin solutions can be created securely and at scale to model both the digital and physical worlds.
Digital twins provide a digital model of the relationships and interactions that exist between people, places and devices and can be applied to any physical environment. Using platforms with sophisticated digital models and AI capabilities, we can improve our work and personal lives across industries.
Once a digital model is in place, the technology platform connects the IoT devices and sensors that keep everything up-to-date with the physical world. The concept of digital twins can be used to make all types of environment smarter, e.g. offices, electric cars, electric grids, schools, hospitals, banks, stadiums, warehouses, factories, parking lots, streets, etc. - and even entire cities.
Smart buildings, smart energy and digital health - 3 examples of how we utilize the technology platforms
We are using platforms to create breakthrough applications for a variety of industries. One example is that we have combined IoT, digital twins and AI to create a smart building platform that helps building owners and operators to manage their buildings with greater efficiency and to organise space in the way that best suits people’s needs. The new solutions include predicting maintenance needs, analysing energy requirements, optimizing how the available space is used and creating more efficient processes to improve employee satisfaction and productivity.
A second example is that we are leveraging a new smart energy platform that is digitizing the whole utility value chain, from energy generation through to transmission, distribution and consumption. Massive volumes of data collected from many sensors throughout the value chain are informing how new products are designed, are facilitating better decisions and are enabling better customer service for a lower price. In addition, technology advances in rooftop solar, electric cars and smart metering technology have allowed consumers to become producers of electricity too, supplying energy back to the electric grid through the platform.
A third example is how digital health platforms are democratizing the healthcare industry. New digital health solutions are enabling people to access their fitness and health data from wearable technology like smart watches, to interact with their data and to access fitness and health services. We have partnered with the global startup Validic to access the health and fitness data generated by devices with the highest level of security. Using AI, experts are training algorithms to analyse large quantities of data and to extract insights to improve predictive capabilities, to enable greater personalization and to democratize access to enhanced care.
A huge opportunity
Platforms are no longer just being used by tech and born-digital organizations. Companies across all industries are recognizing the opportunities in terms of the new kinds of growth and rewards they offer. Organizations with adaptability at their core that succeed in making strategic use of digital technologies to build successful platform business models will become winners. Those who do not will miss their chance and lose out.
At Itera, Platform first is at the core of our business, and this applies to both business platforms and technology platforms. We collaborate with customers in new ways to define new business platforms and to develop, deliver and scale up disruptive, leading-edge solutions on intelligent technology platforms.
Our projects are carried out by DevOps teams that bring together expertise in business analysis, design, development, testing and operations. We combine our specialist capabilities with the capabilities of providers of business or technology platforms. Through strong partnership with the tech giants Microsoft, Google and Amazon, we are tapping into their global research labs, innovation centres and delivery centres. Our solutions are based on advanced analytics, IoT, AI and machine learning capabilities that are available in the platforms.
New platforms are driving the most profound change since the industrial revolution. Itera is playing its role in delivering this change.