“The pace of change has never been this fast,
yet it will never be this slow again.”
- Justin Trudeau, 23 January 2018.
In today’s blog I am going to discuss something more technical that I am used to in my blogs. Today we are going to talk about Digital Platforms.
In the interest of transparency I work for Oracle who are a major provider of cloud solutions that make up Digital Platforms. In this blog I am not going to specifically discuss Oracle solutions but if you contact me I am more than happy to engage directly with you.
I believe talking about Digital Platforms is an important and relevant subject because if you are finding that it is almost impossible to keep up with technology changes today then how are you going to cope in the future? Therefore, knowing what it is and why it’s important are key. In South Africa I have seen companies that haven’t invested sufficiently in a digital strategy and platform and after a while it really starts to hurt them.
What is a Digital Platform?
Interestingly this is not a straight forward answer. In fact, I was at a children’s party recently and was speaking to one of the fathers who develops mobile apps for a leading bank (in other words much more of a techie than I am) and his idea of a digital platform was slightly different to mine.
If you do a search for the definition of a Digital Platform, you will find that it is often used to explain digital-only businesses like Uber and AirBnB. What I am referring to when I talk about a Digital Platform is actually much more than this.
What I believe is a Digital Platform?
I like the article “Digital Platforms Trends 2018” written by Tom Hardin on G2Crowd. I agree with him that a Digital Platform is a collection of cloud-based software and services that incorporate Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
If you don’t know what all the X-as-a-Service are about then here is a short overview:
SaaS: The software that runs your business – CX, ERP, SCM, HCM etc. This is bought by a supplier on a subscription basis.
PaaS: This has been the area where the plumbing for the SaaS applications reside – integration, business intelligence, mobile, extensible development environments etc. It is also often the area of technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain and IoT.
IaaS: In the past companies would buy hardware and install databases to run their OnPremise applications. Today this can be provided for you as cloud services.
Why a digital platform is important?
There are at least two reasons:
Technology is changing so fast that I don’t think companies can write their own applications anymore. There used to be a build vs buy discussion but now the default is to buy. SaaS (described above) also have huge advantages in that the upgrades are done for you and you don’t have to provide for infrastructure that is needed for OnPremise applications.
Technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain, IoT and industry specific applications can be bought as services and added into your digital platform. This allows you to quite easily add the specific technology that will assist your business.
Business benefits of a Digital Platform
1. Business Operation transformation:
A Digital Platform can create an opportunity for you to reduce or eliminate processes that do not require human involvement.
The ability to process large amounts of data allows for deeper and more informed decisions.
It creates a mobile and collaborative workforce that can share knowledge and best practice.
2. Become a customer centric company:
Provide customers with a multi-channel digital experience from marketing, sales through to service.
Gain deeper insights insight into your customer so that you can personalise their experiences.
3. Revolutionise business models:
Business models are constantly changing, and a Digital Platform will allow your company to offer different digital products and services and perhaps change your business model entirely.
I hope you have found this blog interesting and of value. Of course, I am just scratching the surface of what a Digital Platform is and how it can be used. I would like to end with an extract from an article from G2crowd titled “Digital Transformation Trends 2018”.
“Gaining and keeping competitive advantage for businesses has never been more challenging. At the same time, though, there have never been more opportunities to build and scale a company with global reach. With the internet as the platform for innovation and the emergence of the information-fueled economy, technology is both a strategic requirement and a strategic advantage. You’ve probably read about, or even experienced, a big business disruption, and for that to survive you must go through a “digital transformation.”
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I wish you a great rest of the week.
The content of this blog represent my views and not the views of the company I work for.