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“Each business has the potential to grow into a platform player in this current digital era.”
I actually wrote about a similar article before some months back, when I just came back from my Alibaba Netpreneur programme. The 3rd Alibaba Netpreneur Programme is currently on way, hope to see more digital champions coming back to Malaysia soon!
In this article instead, instead of the What or Why, I would like to write about How instead. How to build a platform business? What are the core steps necessary?
The concept of a platform business is not a new phenomenon. The types of businesses have mostly used brick-and-mortar approach to enable interactions and to facilitate value exchanges.
Nowadays platforms are increasingly supported by global digital technology infrastructures that help to scale participation and collaboration, but this is an enabler, rather than a prerequisite for a platform.
In layman terms, you have to figure out the extension of your current business that could always incorporate other collaborative ideas and interactions with other activities.
I’ve been reading the book called SMART BUSINESS by Dr. Ming Zeng, who is currently the Chairman and Academic Council of Alibaba Group.
We were 1 st introduced by Ming Zeng in the Alibaba netpreneur programme last April.
In that book, he explains on how strategy works in an
interconnected automated world.
He explains on the Yin and Yang of digitizing your business into a platform, which starts from the Power of Network Coordination and Data Intelligence combined. As he also aptly coins it, the double helix strategy for smart businesses.
So here the 1 st thing would be the Power of network coordination. Though the name sounds complicated, basically it just means points in your business where you can start to automate the process and collect data!
For the past 5 years, e-commerce platforms like Taobao or lets say Lazada for example have managed to criscross to other platforms which are relevant for them, example would be the modern day internet, social media, through the other rural states of the country and even across the region.
Due to the impeding boom of e-commerce and shopping festivals like 11.11, manufacturers, brand principles from within the country or abroad have pretty much flocked onto the platform.
Offline merchants have also been opening up accounts and linking and gotten themselves accustomed to cashless transactions and mobile payments.
This phenomenon increases the purchases of physical establishments like stores and restaurants, and is known as O2O (Online to Offline and vice versa).
This entire scenario relies on various network coordinated activities such as
External marketing networks : The utilization of Alimama ad exchange network in china has allowed a new mobile marketing ecosystem that is accessible to nearly every channel and website known to the chinese. A similiar local player would be the google Ad network.
Social media: The rise of social media has driven the full support and expansion of e-commerce, as social platforms like Weibo offer lots of opportunities for brand building. Local Malaysian based players would be the Facebook group with Facebook and Instagram offer similiar activities.
Complex new roles: A new generation of Independent Software Providers (ISVs) has emerged that cater to the needs of various cloud computing and data resources that is needed to manage these activities. These companies like SelluSeller, PayRecon, SiteGiant, 2ndCRM and so on have expanded the platform to be able to handle much more complex activities that was not required before.
Penetration across the country and cross border: With logistics catching up in the country, you are able to link your sales towards states or even countries that are previously not within your reach, allowing your business or particular product to reach out way beyond what it used to be.
Through all of these available activities that are opened for you, you as a business owner will then decide which of these other platforms that you can utilize to reach your common goal of being the leading player in that industry.
Be it the leading player with a strong branding via social media, a leading play in terms of customer satisfaction, or being a leader with really unique selling propositions, you can research and find out what other relevant platforms available out there that can be coordinated into your ecosystem.
This would then be the point of managing network coordinated businesses to collaborate into your own platform.
This book in particular “Smart Business: What Alibaba’s Success Reveals about the Future of Strategy” talks bout the activities taken in even greater detail.
Afterthoughts of Part 1
I will continue to write on Part 2 of this mini series by focusing on the usage of data intelligence and how it can propel the efforts done through coordinating your businesses to other platforms.
To read more in the Digital Transformation Series (Stay Tuned for More!)
This will be a series of articles in regards to “Digital Transformation” with BFM! Thanks to Jeff from BFM for this. We believe that businesses in Malaysia is still at it’s trial and error period, and hopefully with this series, we are able to bring more light towards pushing your business ahead in this digital era!