Create Platforms - Not Stand Alone Product

Lalit Dhingra, President, NIIT Technologies
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Lalit Dhingra, President, NIIT Technologies

By now it is clear that a company must focus on becoming digital. This transition includes ensuring that every part of a business’ operation is interconnected, working in tandem and done as seamlessly and efficiently as possible so that the customers receive the best possible experience and product. Today, that means focusing on transforming current processes to be digital and to enable a digital salesforce. But once that is done, what comes next?

“The next wave of digital transformation will evolve beyond just making sure that processes are digital and will also focus on building platforms”

The next wave of digital transformation will evolve beyond just making sure that processes are digital and will also focus on building platforms. Companies established on platforms create much more value than those founded on products that are used in a narrower context. By using products to drive the development of the ecosystem, companies create an equation where “one plus one equals infinite potential” with regard to the possibilities.

For example, Apple’s iPhone by itself is a product, but the app stores, application development environments, and wireless companies that surround it turn it into a platform. Similarly, Apple’s Siri-based voice control HomeKit platform based on a new iOS framework connects all your smart home devices and manages them within the Apple ecosystem.

To Build or Participate in Platforms 

In the digital era, industry leaders are striving to build a platform of some sort to stay ahead of the competition. CEOs are latching onto a product to create a platform with critical mass so that a beneficial ecosystem emerges that allows a company to acquire value. This work can't be done without the architectural vision and deep technical talent of a CIO or CTO. Organizations can use digital transformation to unlock innovation, enable new types of engagement, and spark disruptive business models. While IT was previously seen as a support function, it is now a key component of business strategy.

While developing platforms will be critical for the future of the economy, it does not make sense for every company to create their own platform for every operation. So how do you determine if your organization should create its own platform?

First, look at your company, its current needs, long-term growth and what is the most beneficial based on the sector your company is in. Ask questions such as:

• How customized do you need the platform to be?
• How scalable do you plan on it being over time?
• Do you plan on the platform solely serving your infrastructure needs or do you want it to serve as a competitive advantage?
• Are you willing to put forth a significant investment that you will likely pay off over time?
• How private is your data and do you want to keep it that way?
• What other programs will your platform need to be compatible with in order to be efficient?

Through these questions you will start to determine if you should build your own or purchase another company’s platform or even work with a third party to build your own platform. This will also help determine what types of capabilities you will need in a platform so that your team can plan which elements are most critical.

How to Build?

Once you work through what type of platform to create and what capabilities you need, you must implement it for your organization. While there are numerous ways that a platform can be implemented, there are three overarching ways to make sure the work is done: either build your own, buy one from another company or partner with a third-party to tailor a previously developed platform so that it fits with your needs.  

Regardless of how you implement your platform, it is critical that the platform prepare your company for the future by ensuring the platform is:

• Comprehensive and compatible with your other platforms, so that all of your systems can communicate and exchange data from the first day it is used.

• Easily modified and scalable. Since business changes every day based on regulations, supply and demand, you will want to confirm that the platform will be able to adapt to the changing environment over the coming years.

• Accounts for changing business strategies. While being about scale is critical, it is just as important to make sure that the platform will allow your company to grow. Specifically, companies often enter new geographic markets or new sectors within the same region. A beneficial platform will accommodate such changes within require major updates to the core capabilities.

Why to Build 

IT is an essential component to every business strategy because almost every part of business now integrates technology in as an enabler. Businesses nowadays have to be agile in order to keep up with the innovation of competitors – and that is where a well-thought out platform will come into play. Without the right platform, companies will not be able to take full advantage of a digital economy, which could stifle business growth – or even cause the company to cease to exist.  

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