Designing digitization: The platform economy as an opportunity for companies

A lot has been written about digitization and digital transformation in recent years. One model that describes the basic idea of current business change is the so-called digital platform economy. Industry leaders such as Amazon, Facebook, Salesforce, and Uber have created structures through the creation of platforms that enable a broad spectrum of human participation and interaction. This platform economy changes the way we work, communicate or work creatively.

The platform-based business models ensure a rapid reorganization of the economic systems and form the basis for completely new value creation systems. Recently, one almost wants to think that platforms seem to be part of every business model. The reach and performance of the platform economy inspires both users and companies, as the cloud-based services offer a lot of potential.

Some examples of platform categories would be:

  • Social Networks (Facebook, Google+, Xing und LinkedIn),
  • Auctions and Retail (Amazon, eBay),
  • Finance and Personal (Elance, Freelancer, WorkFusion, eTorro),
  • Mobility (Uber, Lyft),
  • Payment (Mahala, Square) and
  • Energy (PowerFox, SolarCity, EnerNOC).

Even though many of the known interactivists appeared in the list, there are a number of other models that have been a success. Especially in innovation management, many companies use platforms to come up with new ideas through co-creation and swarm intelligence. Other, once small platform providers have also grown considerably in recent years and now play a central role in the global economy. Thanks to the platform economy, online and offline are moving ever closer together.

This reorganization of our business world, the change to digital and cooperation with the customer are the success factors for the platform operators. You currently have the key to the future in your hands.


Types of Platforms

The aim of this series is not only to report on tools of digital change, but also to give the reader something to take action himself. There are four general types of platforms:

  1. Innovation Platforms, where customers, experts, developers or companies either create ideas together or offer complementary products and services such as Oracle or SAP.
  2. Transaction Platforms help individuals and companies find each other and solve each other’s problems. Examples of such platforms are Airbnb or Uber.
  3. Integration Platforms are a combination of the first two types. These are offers from technology companies or product service providers that offer both innovation and transaction platforms, such as iTunes or Google Play.
  4. Investment Platforms are based on portfolio strategies, handle open capacities or act as a holding company. An example would be OpenTable.


So see what kind of platform is best suited for you and develop a strategy for integration into your company. Remember, however, that there are some process steps that must be taken into account on the way to your own platform. Besides a look at the market and the competition, the customer deserves your full attention. His customer experience is the central success criterion for this innovative platform. Therefore, talk to the customer, try to solve his problem and then develop special goals for the realization of your plans.

Last but not least, a tip. You always have to concentrate on the essential and plan your own resources optimally. Therefore, find partners with whom you can develop your platform together, provided you have neither the capacity nor the technical skills. In times of digital transformation, competition is shifting and partnerships are a key to success in the digital world.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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