From B2C to B2B
Businesses that run on a digital platform have, until now, been predominantly B2C. Think Airbnb, Amazon or Uber. But as the wider world becomes aware of these digital successes, it’s becoming apparent that B2B may also benefit from this particular model. With it, B2B organisations could avoid digital disruption — or potentially lead it. They might accelerate the digitisation of products and services, and even open up new revenue opportunities.
B2B companies thinking of adopting a digital platform approach can look to the B2C world for lessons. For example, we know that successful digital platform businesses need two key elements in order to succeed:
- Communities of interest that bring together customers, suppliers etc. to share data.
- Data. The flow of data across the platform is vital to monetise the service. When sharing data, you’re enabling new opportunities that weren’t there before.
What about your business?
The question you might be wondering is: but can my business benefit from this?
Well, in my experience, there’s a strong possibility that you can. There are many businesses that might gain an advantage from using a digital platform that you might not have considered.
To give you a good example, we can look at an airport.
Let’s say a large international airport was to start offering a ‘Business platform as a Service’ to sell its runway slots, retail space and so on. Any business that works at the airport could also acquire its IT services through the platform, and even purchase other services. The whole community at the airport could trade with each other using the same platform. And the airport, as the platform provider, could take a small transaction fee.
Tips on where to begin
With a little creative thought, this technology can be applied in many business scenarios. If you’re thinking of adopting a ‘Business platform as a service’, here are my recommendations on what to consider:
- Leverage lean start-up techniques and methodologies, allowing you to focus on understanding where you deliver value to your customers, and then scale fast.
- Consider what’s happening in your industry in a wider sense — what’s driving your particular market?
- Start thinking about what kind of services you could transform into a platform model.
This isn’t going to work in every industry. It’s not easy and there are limitations to the model. But, done in the right way, the rewards are plentiful. If your business is IT focused and has a wide number of ecosystem players who need to trade with one another, and if this can be monetised on a platform — then ‘Business platform as a Service’ is certainly worth considering.