We’re moving into a new age of business – the platform age. The likes of Uber, Airbnb, Alibaba and Apple are prime examples of platform businesses – but it’s not just for the big guys. Becoming a platform business is about changing the way you think and embracing a new style of business.

Platforms are not new. One of the oldest platform industries is print, where newspapers and magazines connect their advertisers with readers. The magazine is still independent and a product in itself, but it also provides a platform for other businesses that pay for the opportunity to connect with an audience. An online platform is similar to this model.

Incorporating a platform into your business, rather than necessarily transforming your entire business into a platform, could be the key to survival and growth in the modern marketplace.

By shifting from a product- or pipeline-only business to a digital offering, organizations make it easier for customers to connect with them and foster a climate of co-creation. And platforms like online retailers can sell physical products just as well as digital ones.

Transforming a traditional offering – whether products, services or a combination of both – into a platform might seem like an epic task, but with the right technology partners, it is completely achievable.

Begin by clearly defining your organization’s current business model, and identifying some key factors:

  • What is your most profitable business offering?
  • What problems do your customers come to you to solve?
  • What unique expertise does your business hold that your customers rely on?

A successful platform offers customers an easier way to solve their problems, and leverages the unique knowledge your organization holds. Offering your customers always-on access to the services and expertise they already know and understand can help you build valuable, lasting business relationships.

The platform model won’t be for every organization, and not all product types or services are suitable. But if you’ve been feeling that your business has unrealized potential, that the audience for your product could be larger, it could be a game changer.

Re-platforming takes time, planning, and careful development and testing – but it could just catapult your business to the next level.