Platform thinking – that phrase was in the title of a recent blog post and podcast on the Duct Tape Marketing blog. John Jantsch interviewed Phil Simon, author of The Age of the Platform on how businesses are changing to a community mindset and sharing collaboratively with others to get better business done.
Simon mentions the big four in the marketplace now who are building Platforms like crazy: Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. These four companies have expanded far greater than what they originally intended to be. They have become Platforms.
Let’s take Google for example. Remember they started as a freakin’ search engine online. Well, we use Google Apps now as our firm’s calendaring/email systems in the cloud, among many other things. Here is a screenshot of my Google email dashboard:
Here are some of the most heavily used cloud products I use on a daily basis, found right in my Google dashboard:
-My Docs (where I use spreadsheets, a drawing program, a word processor, & a presentation app)
-Batchbook, our firm’s CRM
-Bill.com, our firm’s A/P and A/R management system
-Echosign, a cloud-based paperless signature capture system
-Mailchimp, our firm’s email marketing system
-Shoeboxed.com, a digitized paper accounting workflow system
-Xero.com, an accounting product we use with our customers
-Boomerang, a Google email scheduler (send emails in the future, or on certain dates)
-Rapportive, a socially aware plugin so we know who we are talking to over email
And there are more coming all the time! It’s pretty exciting.
For sure, Google has become a platform – a platform I rely on to get my work done every day. You can bug me about security all day long, and tell me that Google is reading my emails, but I now rely on the Google Platform to get work done. Our team serves faster and our customers get better support when we use Google as a platform, instead of as a stand-alone email or online search system.
THRIVEal seems to be turning into a platform of sorts. We don’t have apps, but we do have a community with serious needs for being together, collaborating together and learning together. We’re already using online educational platforms to build out our PNF coaching courses, are managing a very robust and active community in Yammer, are creating intense live Learning Gatherings and have started the beginnings of a media outlet with our popular podcast.
Pretty freakin’ sweet.
How Do You Create a Platform?
We didn’t really know this until recently, but for THRIVEal, the platform came out of the need for a Community. So we start with the needs of the community. And we have tapped into a community that definitely has some serious needs (as mentioned above). The platform must now grow to meet the needs of the community and allow them to grow as a group. The minute the platform is NOT about the community, then the community will go elsewhere.
We’ve always run our THRIVEal ‘Platform’ on a WordPress blog at http://THRIVEal.com. Well, this blog no longer meets the need of the platform, so we are looking to change that this year. It is going to be a big undertaking, which will involve hiring an agency to do this for us. But when it is done (at least phase one), the main purpose will be to highlight members of the community. And then we plan to build out the platform from there and continue the process of integration, where we bring the other parts of THRIVEal (media, learning, apps, etc.) into the platform.
We have no idea what we are doing. But with the help and support of our awesome community, we hope to build a platform that can lift up the THRIVEal members to the small business community and offer themselves as the servants and coaches of a new way to get better business done in the future. We’re pretty pumped right now. Once we can get this first phase of our Platform built, the members of our community will be poised for real recognition, which they deserve. And that in turn will benefit our profession and those we serve.
Are you building a community around your business offerings? Do you see a Platform in your future?