Platforms are conquering the business world – Internet experts

Chris Schnabel
Platforms are conquering the business world – Internet experts

LeAnne Jazul

Platforms are creating a world where every consumer is now also a producer

MANILA, Philippines – “Traditionally, we have believed that we are in the business of creating products and services, but that world is fast coming to an end. We are now all in the business of enabling interactions,” said Sangeet Paul Choudary, founder of Platform Thinking Lab.

He mentioned this as the central point of his keynote presentation for ThinkPH: Platform thinking held in Makati on Thursday, April 30.  The summit centered on the theme of building platforms as the future of business.

Ubiquitous new trends such as mobile apps, social media, and the sharing economy are just manifestations of the larger shift toward platform thinking, Choudary said.

The rise of mobile Internet access, and smartphones in particular, laid the foundation for this shift.

“There is now no distinction between being online or not online, users are always online,” he said.

The Internet gives any individual user access to the world’s information, and that in turn led to the democratization of production.

It’s a fundamental change between the world being full of consumers to a world where everyone is now a producer as well, Choudary explained.

Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate,” Choudary quoted from technology website Tech Crunch.

Each of them operates on the principle of facilitating beneficial interactions between users who act both as consumers and producers, he explained.

Google, the world most visited website and a platform operator can be seen as an example of how platform thinking has changed the world.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, and to that end, it has created, and bought, popular platforms such as Google maps, Android, Whatsapp, Waze and Youtube.

“We recognized very early that we could not do this alone, we needed to involve the community of connected users and our job was to create platforms that could scale up the ability of users to put in content and services which would be helpful for local communities,” said Ken Lingan, Google country manager for the Philippines, who presented at the event.

What happens then is that these users create local content that is useful locally but also happens to gain traction globally through Google’s multiple platforms, he added.

“For us it’s a recognition that of the power of connected users, that’s what platform thinking is really capitalizing on. 50 million users in the Philippines are now connected online, so every single business has to have an online presence. If you don’t have one you don’t exist,” Lingan said.

Perhaps Google’s most used platform is YouTube, boasting over 1 billion users and 300 hours of content uploaded every minute.

It’s a clear example of the scalability that Internet platforms allow as it empowers the user to produce content; as compared to the traditional TV business model where content is generated in studio and then funneled toward users.

The platform also gives users access to the entire world, with Psy’s Gangnam style video garnering 2,317,590,542 views.

“It’s all about scale and speed with platform thinking you’ll be able to access a massive audience, or market, globally, in the fastest possible time.” Lingan said.

“We’re excited with what the current Filipino online population of 50 million can do. Imagine what the next 50 million could bring us when everyone is online,” he said. –

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