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Are you a mama-san, or a superstar diva? The Inclusiveness of alibaba across all of their platforms and users
Ever heard of a platform business? A couple of famous ones found within Malaysia would be the likes of Lazada (A Platform for E-Commerce Sellers) , GRAB (A Platform for Rides & Transportation Activities) and a few more. What these platforms essentially do is allowing more and more services/activities/business models to be included within an ecosystem.
As defined simply here,
A business model that creates value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups, usually consumers and producers.
Platform businesses are definitely not for everyone, and people or business owners will usually resort to a goal like this when they seek for different kinds of growth.
Take Alibaba for example, most of their businesses are developed based on the platform strategy and criteria, and the only reason in doing so is not because of a winner takes all mentality. During 11.11, sales surged x100 times in China’s Taobao, this would lead to almost 100 times more of fulfillment effort for their logistics and warehouses! However, the solution to this problem is definitely not increasing the current warehouse and logistics fleet by 100 times!
“We dont buy 100 times more trucks to deliver 100 times more parcels!” said Prof. Weiru Chen, our facilitator of the day who used to be the early strategic heads of Cai Niao logistics in Alibaba.
Platform business in its essence, can be implemented if your business requires a way to scale or solve problems exponentially. When you are faced with a new non traditional challenge, you will then need to start breaking old concepts to facilitate this entire process!
A very cheeky term coined by Prof Weiru Chen which got most of us bursting with laughter.
To summarize this analogy, he told us that:
“You will only earn as much as the equal amounts of hardwork you put in as a diva. However, the main earner or winner in this scenario will always be the Mama-San, where in your sleep, you too will earn money!”
Staying true to the analogy, it is indeed a great concept to have. When you have a platform, you are then always flexible in the methods you expand your business through multiple other collaborators into your platform.
Even so, not all businesses are suitable to go down this route, especially when you already have year long roots in your core pillar. Forcing your whole business model to divert in a new direction might be disastrous as it really changes the fundamentals of your current business model.
In fact, there are many platform businesses or startup ideas that have failed miserably along the years, many of them even turn out to be very shady where they implement pyramid schemes, ponzi schemes, and money game schemes into their underlying business model, all while being packaged like an ultra lucrative platform from the outside!
Ever since I came back from Alibaba, this have been on my mind quite substantially. Changing certain core activities of the current businesses that I am handling will definitely not be possible, as the main bread & butter of the group has to move on.
Things that we have to consider are:
First Identify why would you want to do it, then plan a concept around the idea!
We can put it this way, by forming up a new vision where your goal and mission is to integrate multiple sources in your upcoming business plans, you can then have at least an end goal that is revolved around being a platform owner.
Always bear in mind, there is no silver bullet to anything! Careful planning, proper advice and consultations still has to take place before you embark on a huge journey like this.
If executed correctly and properly, a new giant might just come out of all this.
To read more on what happened along the journey thus far :