Technology and innovation are today’s benchmarks for success. Companies that embrace these benchmarks are enjoying the fruits of their labors by pioneering platform-based businesses.
Look at the size of some platform-based businesses (February 2023 market values):
Airbnb: Market cap $74.68 billion
Uber: Market cap $62.52 billion
Amazon: Market cap $929.73 billion
There are digital platforms for businesses in every imaginable industry. For your platform to succeed, there are proper steps to take to ensure the right features and tools are present.
This guide on how to build a business platform model will help you form a clear vision of the specific model that’s right for your company.
What Is a Platform Business?
Platforms require a great deal of thought and planning, rich features, fast servers, and high levels of security. They can be vastly different business models, but they share common foundations:
- Platforms typically center around disruptive technologies.
- They facilitate communication and connections between two or more types of users—consumers and developers as one example.
- These connections are unique in quality and features users can’t find elsewhere.
What Are Some Examples of Successful Platforms?
The following are real-world examples of platforms that have proven their value in the marketplace.
Digital Business Technology Platforms (DBTP)
This technology covers a wide range of platforms, including information systems, customer engagement, and analytics. DBTPs are used in healthcare applications, insurance, entertainment, communications, gaming, and even for managing complex transportation systems.
Many DBTP platforms are used for the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT connects common devices to the internet. Information is shared between smart devices and applications that send and receive data. IoT platforms automate response and actions, and generate meaningful data.
Companies like Uber and Lyft have built a platform business model around facilitating the connection between drivers and riders. Without any direct inventory, this platform model pairs people who need a ride with private vehicle owners, providing both with technical support, account details, and payment handling.
The most well-known business platform model is e-Commerce—with Amazon being the iconic example.
Their primary business is providing a platform for other online businesses to connect with their customers. Amazon’s powerful platform provides a robust infrastructure for businesses, allowing their customers to:
- Match products
- Save searches
- Create lists
- Compare prices
- Provide feedback and star ratings
Sites like Amazon bring a large crowd, giving opportunities to small businesses needing the visibility—and they benefit consumers by providing convenience, speed, a transparent review system, and competitive pricing.
Businesses are developing platforms exclusively for their internal operations. Platforms help companies improve efficiency, especially when bridging siloed departments.
Developing a platform for internal functionality allows instant, private messaging to occur company-wide, with all processes under a single application. Employees have pertinent information in their dashboards, and every specific feature set is centered around improved communication and interoperability.
Real Estate Platforms
Platforms can be designed to take public listings of homes and match them to prospective buyers. The platform in this model pairs people by location, price range, and specific features such as number of rooms and floors.
Much like Uber, Airbnb has captured the vacation and short-term home rentals market. Whether someone’s looking for amenities for their vacation and prefers the conveniences of home over a hotel room, or they’re relocating for their job and need a furnished temporary residence, Airbnb provides a matching service that brings rent-seekers together with property owners.
What Are the Benefits of Digital Platforms?
The platform model allows disruptive businesses to scale with few resources. While new startups should take a slow, steady approach to building their base, recognized brands may be able to scale quickly.
Benefits of digital platforms include:
- A strong sense of community
- Transparency with feedback and ratings
- Efficient, simultaneous messaging
- Centralized information databases
- Tracking and metrics for users and the developer
- Efficient cybersecurity methods
Now, let’s consider how to build a digital platform that will grow a community out of your target audience.
How to Build an Online Service Platform
Launching an online platform isn’t as simple as launching an app, where an individual application typically focuses on a solution to a single problem. A platform is a digital transformation of dozens of features and functions.
When every element is well thought out and programmed thoughtfully, the user will feel it is extremely easy or natural to use (despite there being hundreds of systems working to optimize the user’s experience).
The following are essential steps to take in building your successful platform:
- Look for a solution to a common problem, or develop an improvement to something preexisting that would benefit from better communication and connections.
- Develop a strategy alongside development partners that understand how to accomplish your goals.
- Focus on genuine value exchange and interaction.
Additional Steps to Take
Now that you’ve decided on a business model and devised a development plan, consider these three important steps:
Grow Steadily Over Time
Unless you are a well-established brand with a large following, growing your platform is about steady, consistent growth. Trying to scale too quickly before your audience has taken the time to build organic interaction will drain precious resources.
Measure Your Success
Once you have determined how to move forward, develop a system of metrics and analytics to gauge whether your platform is performing to your standard—and turn improvement goals into key milestones.
Choose the Right Developers
You’ll be designing, developing, and maintaining your digital platform for a long time. It’s important you choose the right team to partner with for the long term.
Build Your Digital Business Platform with Excel SoftSources
Excel SoftSources provides highly-skilled nearshore software development for digital platforms. We partner with businesses for the long term—from the initial spark of an idea to continued maintenance, feature upgrades, and security.