Seeing differences between B2C and B2B within Ecosystems and Platforms

Jeffrey wrote a recent post “No walled gardens in B2B platforms” and started with this: “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)”

I wanted to highlight some key differences as a follow-up post and was beginning to work on this when up “pops” a really valuable article by McKinsey “Finding the right digital balance in B2B customer experience”.

Jeffrey and I have championed the idea that customer experience is the ultimate innovation outcome, based on strong ecosystems and platforms so this caught my attention. The article does a good job of focusing the B2B companies to putting customer-centricity and experiences at the heart of their strategy. This offers good advice on the one-to-one model but less on the complications of many businesses working with other business on a two-sided platform of multiple participants

The writers for this McKinsey article, rightly point out the root of the problem is that while the role of customer journeys is central to both B2B and B2C, their incidence and importance are different for B2B and they go on and explain the chief differences.

I’d like to “lift out” these four chief differences McKinsey defines and discuss these more in the multi-sided platform context and ecosystem needs, going beyond the customer experience ones. Continue reading

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

Entering new battlegrounds of connected devices

There is a new set of battlegrounds brewing around platforms and ecosystems and what and who controls the data and the flows needed to build these thriving environments, reliant on the cloud.

One such battle zone will be on connected devices and who controls and delivers what.

It is not unlike the battleground of the mobile phone device that became famous in an internal note to Nokia employees that I wrote about, back in 2011 “Welcome to the brave new world of innovation ecosystems”.

We are coming to the time that will have similar high stakes of who thrives (and survives) by what they own or control in the looming battles ahead, the one of who and what connects and the way these connections generate, influence and control the connectivity required; to connect the ‘intelligent’ devices to platforms, clouds and all the partners in the ecosystem, seeking insight and understanding to exploit and explore new efficiency and growth opportunities, collecting the new gold called ‘fluid data’.

Continue reading

The Interconnected Parts of an Ecosystem

Credit Katri Valkokari

Now I relate very strongly to different visuals and this happens to be a current favorite of mine. It sums up the differences between the types of ecosystems we need to recognize and work through.

I came across this in a paper by Katri Valkokari, a Research Manager at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in the Business, Innovation and Foresight research area.

Although it presses a number of buttons for me, the paper seems to have limited the differences shown here and I just want to throw this visual open just a little more, in your ‘need to know’ here and then come back to it later.

What Katri does, is provide a really good contribution into how they differ in outcomes, interactions, even a logic of actions and the different ‘actor’ roles for the three.

A return to thinking Ecosystems and Platforms Continue reading

Recapping our ecosystem and platform thoughts

For those of you following our posts about ecosystems and platforms and their importance to innovation, this is the 30th post. We thought it made sense to take a breather before pushing on to other ideas, to stop and recap what we’ve been writing about, and perhaps to place some of these ideas in context.

Paul Hobcraft and I first began talking about ecosystems and platforms several years ago, as it became more evident that innovation is often focused too narrowly, considering only a discrete product or service as its end result.

Increasingly, we believe, innovators must become first more aware of the platforms and ecosystems that exist in their markets or segments, and secondly must become more willing to innovate with regard to the platform or ecosystem, and eventually must innovate to change or disrupt the platforms and ecosystems.

Continue reading

Are you in a fog or a cloud? Get ready for more complexity to come

So what is the difference between a fog and a cloud? Well, actually bandwidth is part of the answer and where data needs to be situated.

Slow connections are driving the cloud closer to the actual asset that has the information, the cloud needs. “Fog computing, or edge computing” is getting closer to those local computers and devices to solve this bandwidth problem we all will be having it seems.

Solutions are looking far more to the how and where we store data and how we are setting about how to access it.

Fogging solutions are coping with the problem that sensor loading is creating altering what goes to the cloud and why

The reason why I’m interested in this, on a dedicated site discussing platforms and ecosystems, is that this fog computing is attempting to solve multiple problems at the edge where innovation lies far more for us to understand, where the devices and their users generate the insights and raw data. Continue reading

When a platform becomes an operating system

In the last post Paul wrote about Bosch, and its focus on the industrial internet of things (IIoT).  Bosch, GE and other industrial companies are attempting to create industry leading or at a minimum industry standard platforms to link industrial organizations and create standards, with the hope that new ecosystems and new solutions are built on top of those platforms.

Each of their goals is to capture, manage and exploit information generated from thousands of activities and sensors throughout the industrial platform.

Here we can the see opportunity and the challenges associated with an IIoT play:  building a platform and managing the data of an industrial giant means managing (and harvesting) a tremendous amount of data.

But it also means plugging into or interfacing with other systems and platforms, as none of these companies can create a holistic platform or replace all of the platforms and systems in a large company.  Bosch, GE and others can create really powerful and important platforms in sections or functions, but must integrate and share data with other platforms.  While they can create really powerful and compelling platforms, these platforms are by necessity limited to specific capabilities or functions.

Now for something completely different

Let’s examine then, the power and flexibility that an Amazon, for example has in its quest to build platforms through its AWS offerings.  First, it is focusing on business to consumer (b2c) or in many cases a category that Paul has coined:  consumer to consumer (c2c). Continue reading