Being the CEO of a Platform Business

In a long-tail world it’s becoming increasingly impossible for any single organisation to deal with the fragmentation of demand. Apple’s solution – with its iPhone – was to become the platform for others to service demand they identified. Those closest to their own niche could deliver products and services which were a better fit than Apple could ever had hoped to meet alone.

The Iphone came with a range of universally one-size-fits-all apps – weather, maps, clock, and calculator all so ubiquitous as to have become productised. But to reach genuine scale they had to see themselves as a platform organisation. 10 per cent effort from inside the org, the remaining 90 per cent from outside.

Apple provided an actual platform (the iphone itself), enabling technology (open API) and even a way to monetise (app store) which provided win-win innovation for all parties. The result has been hundreds of millions of downloads and a very successful couple of financial years for Apple. If you look at their advertising you can see what they feel their USP is..

In a world where teenagers in a bedroom can disrupt established markets over night the ability to innovate can’t be slow or expensive. If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em or better invite them in to co-create.

To us at 90:10 every business not just those in the tech game should become a platform business. The role of the platform is to light the spark, find and manage the crowd to shape the outcome.

Why wouldn’t you want to grow your workforce by 1000% without the contracts, legal fees and salaries to care for? Nimble and lean yet scalable and flexible. Changing the course of a platform business does not mean crippling redundancies just new focus and partnerships. The strength of a platform business is that it can and should disrupt its own model by seeking to innovate at the edge of markets not fight it out in ‘me too’. Blue Ocean over Red Ocean (Red Ocean being bloody).

90:10 is setup as just that. Currently we use our collective knowledge of the networked world and the application of social technologies to help other’s existing businesses adapt primarily as a service company. But we also are a platform for our employees and partners to innovate making the most of what we know. When the world has adapted to this cultural shift and nobody needs our consulting services we will already have our own network of businesses profiting from our collective knowledge, experience and eye for future disruptions.

This is the spirit of 90:10 Enterprise. We are a group of entrepreneurs backed up by a dedicated and skilled team (platform) of marketers, developers and project managers. We are the only consultants in this space who are thought leaders but also businessmen out there doing. Our greatest single value as a service provider is we know the realities of doing business and in doing so avoid the kind of naiveties that would frustrate business leaders.

90:10 Group is in a sense an experiment of doing business wholly in the principle of the platform business model. We can be as puritanical in this as we like because we are starting from scratch. We are the end result of what I propose all my current clients become. So I’ve decided not to talk through the usual thought leadership of the various disciplines that 90:10 Group offers on this blog anymore, I will leave that to folk like David Cushman . Instead I’m going to focus on the successes and strains of being CEO of a 90:10 Platform business. The implications to resourcing, product /service  development and innovation. There will be mistakes along the way. I aim to make them before my clients do. We are small enough to get away with it.

So welcome to ‘Being a Platform Business’.


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