The Rise of the Platform

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In todays online world, the digital landscape has changed much since the early inception of the web. Since the dot com boom in the early 90's we have seen companies online strategies evolve aswell.

In the early days of the web we saw all types of companies clambering to claim there online presence amonst the myriad others. In part many organisations were able to set up their online presence. They were then often dependent on the search engines to effectively crawl and rank their sites and of course every company wanted to appear at the top of the pile when people were searching for certain keywords or phrases. Companies would pay a premium to optimise thier site in an attempt to get listed above their competitors. 

However once at the site, it was then a question of engaging the customer. So the importance of a good user experience became paramount to try and engage that hard won visitor. This included the speed of which the page loaded, even if accessing it on a slow internet connection or mobile device. From the organisations perspective, the ability to be able to handle simultaneous requests from a large number of users presented its own challenges. 

For many existing businesses or organisations this all seems like alot of effort, and in the large part offers little reward, at least in the short to medium term. What is more appealing to a smaller organisation or start up, who like many others wants to have an online presence, but cannot justify the huge investment it might take to not only have a site, but to keep it up to date and deal with the complexities of web hosting, search engine optimisation, Social Media integration not to mention Web Designers and Developers. However, they might feel more comfortable in subsribing to a platform that provides them with most of the functionality they need, along with many others without having to deal with the costs and issues that are.

Even larger companies, who have a portfolio of sites that make up there business, They may have several sites across different platforms. Here they may look to consolidate their sites to use a single platform. This enables them to benefit from economies of scale, but may place some challenges, as updating a single site often means updating across the entire platform.

We have also seen the rise of the platform in many disruptive technologies. From the likes of Uber who provide a platform to connect Minicab drivers with prospective clients. Now there are platforms springing up all over the place, from companies wanting to offer Plumbers, Electricians, HandyMen/Women, Car Mechanics, Builders, Dentists etc etc 

At this moment in time, the world of platforms seems to have a bright future. Certainly it makes sense to benefit from the economies of scale offered by this one for many approach. However, as we have seen with the likes of Uber, the platform provider is often the real winner with the many being squeezed or having to adhere to the terms and conditions of the platform. It may also restrict innovation at a grass roots level, as the platform may place certain restrictions that differentiate one user or organisation from another. From an end users point of view, the incentives to use these platforms are often driven by price. Fom a SME's perspective it may offer a viable root into an area that is otherwise fraught with difficulties. Certainly the platform seems to be a key part of the Disruptive Technology wave we are seeing today.

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