Digital Platforms, marketplaces or multi-stakeholder markets are core of all Digital Transformation stories. They are also the targets for startups and goals of almost all SMEs nowadays.
A digital platform brings together two or more distinct groups of customers on a common online platform that creates value for all. eBay, one of the earliest and still most successful cyber platforms, brings together private sellers, commercial retailers and buyers to sell new and used items.
The Platform Business Crash Course (PBCC)
The PBCC is a 2-3 one-on-one sessions where we help startups and SMEs invent, build and optimism platform based business models. The Crash Course is designed to cramp the concepts of deriving at a platform-based business after going through 5 steps. It allows the entrepreneur to learn how to ideate, design and strategise new business products and services.
1. The Ecosystem Scan : Is all about understanding the context of the potential market. We scan the ecosystem in 5 dimensions for value creation opportunities, weak spots in the markets and risks:
2 The Ideation phase : Is where we use the Platform Idea Canvas to go broad — generating as much ideas for new business products and services (or improving existing ones) as possible. Building platforms has a lot to do with disruption and therefore we put no constraints on the thinking. We use a sub-set of tools to foster the ideation like :
At the end we usually generate between 5-10 new ideas. With methods like Priority Poker and Portfolio Management you can rank the ideas between market attractiveness, competition and the own strengths you bring to the table. The goal is to select 1 or 2 ideas you want to design deeper.
3 Value Proposition: Now we come to the core of our approach. Here we use the Platform Value Canvas or Platform Business Model Canvas to design the platform ecosystem:
This step is critical, since you need to get the value proposition right for each stakeholder, otherwise no one will join your platform. We start with co-innovation methodologies to understand the “jobs-to-be-done”, pains and gains of customers, producers and partners. Is better to get a deep understanding of your value propositions if you don't want to investing in big prototyping — a low cost feedback loop.
4 Service Design: In this phase we go deeper into the platform business model by focusing on the design of the key services that will:
Here we also understand what is needed from you as the platform owner in order to operate the platform (key activities, key resources, key technologies), this is critical since it will help you understand the cost side of running the platform. During this phase we go into “Service Design” sessions using design thinking and further co-innovation methodologies in order to create the platform architecture. We also plan for future research and development to continue to enhance the platform, determining what customisations and enhancements will be necessary in the near future to create greater business value.
5 Go-to-market strategy: In the last step we look at the go-to-market strategy and consolidate the platform business model into one chart. This will help you talk to investors and get a high-level understanding of your idea. You will define your market position (Vision, Mission, USP), your influencers (competition, business drivers, stakeholders) and your strategies (market-strategy, resource strategy, business case).
This step is very helpful to really get the complete picture right, by talking about the business case in details you can understand how much money is needed and how network effects will help.
Prototyping, Fast-time-to-market and Pivoting
Once you finish the ideation and strategy phase you begin the lean prototyping. In PBCC, we help our users manage the prototyping process by using a combination of Fast-time-to-market project management and Customer Development methodologies.
“FTTM” is based on best practices of silicon valley high-tech companies and helps accelerate your go-to-market target milestones. In combination with “Customer Development” you can build MVPs that are really useful to get your assumptions validated based on real customer usage.
The process we just described is the core methodology behind the Platform Business Crash Course, which is available for free when you contact one of our consultants. If you want to learn more, just contact us to have us send you a toolkit and you can be on your way to become a Platform Champion.