Platform Driven Companies Prove We-Conomy Impact

This month’s Harvard Business Review focuses on the rise of businesses of all sizes using platforms instead of mere products to drive company growth.

As the debate continues over the real “sharing” behind the sharing economy, the new platform strategy boom may provide real insight into the undeniable impact that collaborative economy businesses are having on the broader global economic landscape.

As major companies like GE and Microsoft work to transform and grow in size and scale by switching to platform business models instead of product centric or pipeline driven ones, the impact of the WE-Conomy becomes evident.

Platform businesses that bring together producers and consumers as Uber and Airbnb do are capturing increased market share and transforming how competitive edge is achieved. Yesterday it was through product differentiation. Today it is through scale and impact.

With the iOT Predix GE platform for instance, the same ecosystem concept built around the marriage of technology and knowledge or service sharing that drives many collaborative economy models can be seen.

As GE works to go back to its industrial roots, it is using their new Predix platform to shape and define the future of the Industrial Internet. The platform, which falls under GE Digital, is being built to sit at the “intersection of people, machines, big data and analytics.” This new area of GE, recently launched as part of the company’s massive transformation, is expected to bring the company $6 billion alone in 2016.

Microsoft is also using a platform instead of product approach in its huge redesign of its Outlook email program by bringing together outside partners like PayPal, Uber, Evernote and Yelp! to create not just a winning email product, but winning email ecosystem.

According to HBR “With a platform model, the critical asset is the community and resources of its members. The focus of strategy shifts from controlling resources to orchestrating them, from optimizing internal resources, to facilitating external interactions and from increasing customer value to optimizing ecosystem value.

Doesn’t all this new innovation sound a lot like the collaborative economy? Creating ecosystems built off of technology platforms to unite people around shared ideas and the accomplishment of specific goals?

There is no doubt that sharing economy pioneers like Uber are responsible for the new platform driven thinking that is sweeping the “traditional” business landscape.

With new models of success being predicated on a company’s ability to create platform driven models, the massive impact of the collaborative economy becomes more and more visceral. Companies ranging from John Deere to Nike are quickly scrambling to get in the game.

As the Harvard Business Review describes it “A platform model provides the rules and infrastructure for a marketplace that brings together producers and consumers. The players in the ecosystem fill four major roles (producers, consumers, providers and owners) but may shift rapidly from one role to another.”

It seems clear that future success is going to be driven by those wise enough to harness the power of collaboration to build winning ecosystems that drive innovation, disruption and industry leadership.

After all, wasn’t a switch to a platform model by Apple in its second chapter which took it from computer maker to world’s leading lifestyle technology company? While hard to recall, before Steve Jobs made the shift in 2007, Apple had less than 4% of the desktop market and zero percent in mobile phones. It was only when he built his ecosystem model based off of simply connecting app providers and app users that the company’s path to world domination began.

While the comparisons between huge platform companies like GE and Microsoft and smaller collaborative economy players like TaskRabbit and Postmates may possess a few disparities, the undeniable fact is that an age of doing it for the we instead of the singular me is most definitely at the heart of the future of business.

Welcome to a world where it will be collaborative driven platforms not mere products that determine victory. Hail the new age of We-Commerce.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!

Originally published at brandthropologie.com on April 13, 2016.