What’s Reshaping Entire Industries?

There seem to be multiple forces at work, ones that are reshaping how organizations are adjusting to a rapidly changing world, to operate within.

So much focus has been on the disruptive forces at work, the ones that change the present market conditions and rapidly alter the way organizations are “seeing the world” and responding.

The forces also include the pace and competitive nature as organizations globalizing and getting increasingly vulnerable to ‘attack’ due to their size and reaction constraints, locked into their established positions. The bigger the organization, the tougher to be nimble, adaptive and responsive.

There are many well-established organizations suffering the ‘death of a thousand cuts (read start-ups) all intent on taking business away, offering up more ‘viable and attractive’ propositions that meet specific needs of a customer base, one that is increasingly fed up with the ‘one size fit all’ approach. The attraction of new low-cost, good enough products, that do the job that they simply need doing without all the ‘added on’ is stripping away parts of the premium offer built into the past business model of large global organizations.

Organizations are seemingly caught between sustaining their existing business models and approaches to market and those waking up increasingly to finding a different, more radical one as they sense real threat. Technology is driving the need to change. The pressure of ‘connectedness’ and the whole ‘network effect’ are forcing rapid rethinks of how to combat these different pressures. Continue reading

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Apollo and Baidu: the Autonomous Platform Builders

In the latest update to its platform, Baidu says partners can access new obstacle perception technology and high-definition maps, among other features. We are told that the company with the most data will win. To get the real edge it is to have and train algorithms that interpret the intelligence and here you need to understand the value of AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Now there is a significant “buzz” on AI at present but where it is really taking off is in China and one company needs to be followed is Baidu.

How Baidu is going about this is to build ecosystems that commercialize AI technology and then attract this ecosystem of partners and developers to accelerate AI into actionable knowledge.

Then we see the Autonomous Platform emerging……

Just released a further update

Chinese search engine giant Baidu is to spend 10bn yuan (£1.1bn; $1.5bn) on new driverless car projects over the next three years. The “Apollo Fund” will invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years, Baidu said in a statement.. The move is an attempt to catch up with US rivals by enlisting outside help.It now has 70 partners across several fields in the auto industry, up from 50 in July, it says

The launch of Baidu’s “Apollo Fund” coincides with the release of Apollo 1.5, the latest version of its open-source autonomous vehicle software. In the latest update to its platform, Baidu says partners can access new obstacle perception technology and high-definition maps, among other features”.

Reuters News 21st Sept, 2017

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From footpath to Facebook: Building a platform

I’ve been interested in what constitutes a “platform” and how platforms spawn and nurture ecosystems for quite some time.  We’ve been exploring these ideas in this blog over the last few months.

In this post I’d like to start identifying some of the key factors that anyone thinking about innovating or building a platform must consider.  To do that, I’d like to start, as the title suggests, by reviewing the first platforms.

The first platforms were paths, rivers and other means of improving human interaction and communication.  As interactions were improved and information flowed more easily, civilization, which is just a form of an ecosystem on a platform, developed.  Roads, canals and other forms of improved transportation simply became a better platform, and allowed the Romans to create financial and trade mechanisms not equaled until the 19th century. Continue reading

Platform understanding is growing

I have put some focus back on the platforms recently, as this is becoming a real imperative to understand the whole meaning and implications of platforms, with the necessary management they require, so as to enable us to rethink different business models for the future.

There are without doubt real business implications in taking on a platform strategy as they really will be having such a transforming effect on all we do within companies and way beyond with others, including customers and even past competitors. They uproot the present and much of the established practicies.

They are changing the face of markets, industries, and competition but we within the established business world, mostly formed in the 20th centure seem slow to recognize their incredible impact, if we applied this platform thinking towards our own business, what would it mean?

There is a recognition that all innovation does not occur inside, it occurs from ‘open’ collaboration. It occurs from engagement and appreciating many others have better insights and possible answers, it is the power of combining them that has such economic consequence and great value creation potential. Our businesses are all becoming based on platforms.

The difficulty for many of us is first understanding what a platform is all about. The getting a clearer picture of the different types of platforms. Each has different tasks in building their specific “network effect” and how they are set up to interact and the type of problems they are attempting to solve. Some are really open, some are seeking growth, some are seeking collaborators to come together and work on ‘cracking’ more complex problems that one individual company would not be able to do.

In some of my recent updating of the platform breaking scene, I came across a terrific site that has created an open initiative to help entrepreneurs and organizations of all sizes to relate and build successful platform businesses, called Platform Hunt. Continue reading

The Future Is Within Health Ecosystems

Source: IBM Institute for Business Value

I have struggled to get my head around the effect of ecosystems within the healthcare system, it is so complex.

In recent weeks, I have recognized the barriers and opportunities around the challenges of building ecosystems for health services, to deliver real change within our healthcare and its management.

To help me, I have found some excellent observations to gain this deeper appreciation of the complexities involved. The links are shown at the bottom of this post.

This is my opening summary to relate my understanding of how ecosystem designs might help change this vital sector of our economies.

The first starting point is that the patient themselves have to become the center of any future healthcare system, based on ecosystem solutions. Why? Firstly, the patient or customer increasingly will be demanding and expecting personalized treatment and want to be in a position to shop around to achieve this. Secondly, they are expecting and wanting to be part of a controlled method and have the choice of advice and care delivery more than ever. Thirdly, they will shop for quality and cost as the cost models will increasing look for this personalization to determine the premiums. The final customer will be central to drive the change and the providers of ‘services’ keen to reposition themselves as responsive to this ‘need’

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Blockchain and distributed ledgers as innovative platforms

It had to come to this eventually.  The emergence of Blockchain and distributed ledger systems illustrates how innovation is moving from focus on products and services, which are interesting but don’t provide a long-lasting competitive advantage, to a focus on platforms and ecosystems.

Over the last few weeks this need for a lasting competitive shift in focus was emphasized as Ford pushed out its CEO because he wasn’t changing the company fast enough. As discussed in this blog previously, the automotive sector must rethink its competitive position.  Increasingly, people want flexible transportation – from cabs, Uber, public transportation and/or their cars.

The automotive manufacturers (Ford, GM, Fiat, Mercedes, etc) must shift their focus from building physical cars to providing transportation – a shift in thinking and strategy.

In a very similar manner we can see that banking and financial services are moving from offering discrete services (mortgages, loans, checking/savings accounts, etc) and are considering how to either own or integrate with larger platforms and ecosystems, because the older conventions are less attractive to emerging customers and technology is advancing so quickly that soon many different companies and industries can offer banking-like services.

Distributed ledgers and Blockchain may point out a new competitive platform that some firm is going to capitalize on.  For example, we can imagine a time in the not too distant future where a large company that supports and relies on an extended supply chain – the automotive industry for example – could dictate that all of its supply chain participants must interact using Blockchain.  Then we’d have a company spanning, industry wide ERP like platform.  If this sounds crazy, don’t laugh.  The government of Dubai just announced that within five years every entity that interacts with the government must do so using Blockchain.

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No walled gardens in B2B platforms

Walled Garden Illustration by David Simonds

Paul and I have noted throughout our writings on platforms and ecosystems the key differences between companies that interact primarily with consumers (B2C) and companies that interact primarily with other corporations (B2B).  This difference is especially important when we begin to think about platform dominance.

You see, Facebook interacts primarily, almost exclusively, with customers (B2C) as such it’s platform serves to provide almost the entire interaction between Facebook and its customers.  We could almost return to the days of old, when AOL was your conduit to the internet, when we talked about “walled gardens”, because that’s what many of the pure play B2C platforms are – walled gardens, meant to provide as much of the platform as possible.  Their goal is “stickiness”, attracting you and keeping you plugged into their platform, consuming their content.

On the other hand, industrial companies are definitely as engaged in platform development, but their solutions require more than one platform. Continue reading