In their recent report, Earn Your Place In The Platform Economy1, Forrester, a leading global research and advisory firm, seems to have moved beyond questioning if companies will be getting on board with the platform business model, and is instead focusing their vast resources on researching the different ways that companies will join this revolution. As the old saying goes, we’ve reached a tipping point at which it’s no longer a question of “if,” only “when.”
Opening strong, Earn Your Place In The Platform Economy states early on that, “Forrester believes that platform business models will ultimately define strategy and economics in some part of the value chain of every industry.” The report acknowledges the high-profile nature of retail platforms like Amazon, but goes on to draw attention to other verticals that have also adopted the platform model, such as Uber and Lyft for transportation and Airbnb for hospitality. On the B2B side, there is also the now ubiquitous software-as-a-service (SaaS) model used by companies like Salesforce.
According to Forrester, the secret behind the success of the platform business model is a combination of attributes centering on its ability to bring together a wide variety of suppliers and partners, giving that collaborative network access to an expansive customer base, and reduce service delivery costs. In addition, the platform business model provides a unique opportunity to gain critical insights into customer behaviors and needs, making it much easier to determine which kinds of products and services they’ll be looking for next, and which kinds will keep them coming back for more. Finally, the platform business model allows companies to take those insights and quickly launch new products and services strategically chosen to meet customers’ desires.
Having established the far-reaching applications and competitive strengths of platform business models, Forrester dives right into its analysis of the three different roles a company can play in this new paradigm, adding that, “every company must participate in the platform economy.” The three roles Forrester identifies are adopter, participant, and leader. While adopters “use partners’ platforms to accelerate and scale,” and participants “integrate with others’ marketplaces to reach customers,” leaders “build platforms that shape markets.”
The good news is that there’s plenty of opportunity to be a leader. As Forrester explains, “This is not a winner-takes-all-world … there will be as many platform business models as there are traditional business models.” The fact is, a number of market factors ensure that most industries will be constrained from creating natural monopolies, leaving plenty of field for a wide range of players. It is advisable, however—based on Forrester’s analysis—to be proactive and make your move sooner rather than later if you want to earn your place as a leader of the platform economy. As with most business opportunities, the people who get in on the ground floor will have the best advantage; and there is plenty to learn to maximize the potential of a platform business: the strategy of service pricing, the nuances of finding balance between customer and supplier value, and so forth.
For companies ready to rise to the challenge and lead the charge on using the platform business model as a game-changing growth strategy, one of the most critical keys to success will be getting to market faster than the competition. Mirakl is helping industry innovators of all kinds do just that with our easy-to-implement, fully integrated marketplace management platform. Many of our clients have been able to get from zero to a fully functioning marketplace in as few as four months. Our comprehensive and flexible solution offers more than 700 configurable features, over 100 customizable APIs, extensive scalability, and a team of more than 80 marketplace experts, making it easy for the companies we serve (Siemens, J. Crew, Kroger, and Catch Group, to name a few) to get up and running much more quickly than if they attempted the complicated, expensive, and time-consuming DIY approach.
If you’ve been considering how the marketplace model can help you transform and future-proof your B2C or B2B business, we invite you to download the full Earn Your Place In The Platform Economy report from Forrester or contact one of our marketplace experts.