Apollo and Baidu: the Autonomous Platform Builders

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.

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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

Moving beyond the “ten types” of innovation

Many innovators are familiar with the concept of the “ten types” of innovation developed by Doblin.  If you aren’t familiar with the model, it describes different potential outcomes for innovation, beyond “product” innovation.

Doblin’s ten types includes innovation outcomes based on channels, business models, services, customer experiences and other factors.

As a fan of the model, I return to it and reference it constantly, because far too many innovators narrow their focus and only create new product innovations, when markets and customers are clearly interested in much broader and more diverse innovations.

But as a fan of the ten types model I can also see some of its shortcomings, and one of those is its lack of “depth”.  The ten types model expands the perspective of innovation in terms of breadth – from a single outcome called “product” to a range or spectrum of offering types.  But the model lacks definition around “depth” – building a description of a platform or ecosystem of innovation.  Continue reading

Ecosystem approaches are simply radically different, be ready.

There are significant differences between the ecosystems we might consider. Let’s reflect a little here, some recap and explore some further thoughts.

They all have complexity, they all need highly collaborative platforms to exchange and build through, they all need constant focus on aligning individual ecosystem players needs with the vision and prospective rewards this can bring to all participating parties.

The more engagement with the final ‘consumer’ throughout the process of insight,  discovery to solution building, to eventual proposition outcomes needs the highest ‘active’ attention and communicating for all involved.

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Adjusting to the Changing Landscape of Ecosystems

We all are being told repeatedly that opportunities will increasingly emerge outside of the traditional established lines of business, as new digital technology solutions take increasing hold.

The issue is how we go about adapting to these and taking advantage of the changes all businesses are undergoing. These will be through different approaches to designing and extracting the potential value gained and will form around ecosystems and their management, through technology solutions provided by platform providers.

I am not sure how you feel, but It seems disruption is in everything, in what we need to undertake, in what is coming towards us in change. It has a common purpose, often far less sinister than promoted, it is requiring us to re-equip and open up, as we learn to deal in this changing world where connections can emerge from anywhere at any time, offering a new ‘line of sight’ onto an existing business concept. We need to respond quickly and in different, collaborative ways. Digital challenges are everywhere, to explore and exploit.

We need to engage in different ecosystems and participate in new platform learning to take advantage of the changes taking place all around us. To quote Chuck Robbins, the Cisco CEO “We believe that no one company can deliver the full breadth of technology solutions that customers need at the pace the market requires”. It is through the increasing intensity of using data and a deep analysis where this growing need for broader collaborations becomes so essential.

Partnerships abound, not just within a specific industry but in cross-industry collaborations. Ecosystems need to form to take advantage of many rapidly emerging market opportunities. It is not just welcome to a world of ecosystems, it is learning to change from being exclusive owners into open collaborators, that build ‘greater value’ from the common need of working together, and many of these are increasingly cross-industry ecosystems.

Just recognize the changes we are undertaking in cross-industry collaborations are significant Continue reading

Amazon and Whole Foods expose an ecosystem gap – the last mile

In case you were hibernating or out of range of cell cover or WiFi during the last few days, you know that Amazon has made an offer to acquire Whole Foods.

This places the largest online merchant in direct competition with some of the largest retailers in the US – grocery stores – and continues Amazon’s move into “bricks and mortar” businesses.

On this blog Paul and I have been writing about the importance of innovation in platforms and ecosystems.

With this acquisition, Amazon is attempting to extend its platforms into the “real” world and link up its power in the online world with physical stores.  Amazon understand a lot about attracting customers to its site, and does a reasonably good job at distribution.  Amazon gains a trusted “bricks and mortar” company that is respected (or sneered at) by consumers.  Whole Foods isn’t nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” for nothing, and there are some interesting dynamics between a company that isn’t concerned with profits and a company well-known for top of the line products and good customer service.  But we aren’t here to evaluate the integration of these companies, as much as to identify an ecosystem gap.

Amazon and the last mile problem

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