Platforms are eating the world

The platform strategy has two key elements, and it is important not to confuse them. First is the platform business model, where companies build digital ecosystems or marketplaces connecting customers with producers of goods and/or services, making it easy for them to do business, rather than playing a direct role in the supply chain (think, Airbnb, eBay and Uber).
Second is the technology platform, which supports the electronic marketplace and facilitates the digital business model. Many platform businesses began with a platform business model in mind, so they purposely built their infrastructure and IT systems to support such a model from the outset. Others, including most communications service providers, are now evolving their business models to take advantage of their infrastructure, IT systems and connectivity to facilitate and create digital ecosystems
.”
Dawn Bushaus
in a TM Forum Report called “Platforms: How to join the revolution

This report is well worth a read if you’re looking for insights into how CSPs can leverage their hard / soft / wet assets to build a platform strategy. Another member of the TM Forum team, Sarah Wray, has created this blog, “Network effects “create category kings”,” which provides some fascinating quantification of how platforms are eating the non-CSP world.

Dawn Bushaus’ report also states, “Communications service providers are uniquely placed to turn their networks and operational and business support systems inside out the way Amazon did, and many are already starting to do it. These architectural changes enable them to shift to a platform business model and offer customers access to all kinds of services that may or may not be hosted on their network. This is similar to how the Apple App Store or Google Play offers access to third-party applications.
A customer can order services on demand through a self-service portal, and the operator, in turn, can provision and manage them end to end, potentially in conjunction with partners, so that the services consistently meet pre-determined levels of quality. Eventually these services will be ‘zerotouch’, meaning everything happens automatically, without any human intervention, using orchestration, analytics and policy management
.

Service providers, via their OSS/BSS, are already starting to become more API-driven, which gives them the opportunity to offer platforms upon which their customers can build.

The next step for service providers is to leverage the power of their enormous existing subscriber base, to connect the buyers and sellers of all sorts amongst it, and add value to their lives. For an earlier perspective on this topic, see here. We’re barely scratching the surface of the valuable business models we can create based on the data collected and collated by our OSS/BSS.

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