Platforms are a rising category in the world of technology. I advise different teams to help them think through the role of a niche platform in their industry and how that might be utilized as a basis for philanthropy, enabling personal empowerment while delivering a ‘new values, new power’ solution. So, what do I mean by that ?
A new technology category is emerging (if indeed it isn’t already there). Let’s call it ‘Platforms’. To date, the examples are obvious – YouTube, Uber, AirBNB etc etc. But there are some aspects surrounding that category that have yet to settle down and in my opinion define a ‘great’ new world. Or a ‘not so great’ new world. If you want a drill down on the state of ‘the platform today’ – you could do no better than skim through this deck.
But I think there’s more.A lot more. Consider this Ted Talk from Jeremy Heimans in 2014.
You can read a related narrative here, or read on – which means you get my 10 cents on top.
The three graphics below do a good job of pictorially representing the discussion. First, let’s summarize what Jeremy means by ‘Old Power Values’ (I think we will all recognize them) and ‘New Power Values’. Again, I think we all talk about these – but rarely question how that translates into a modern business.
The second graphic starts to answer that translation question. In it he maps campaigns, businesses et al into a two by two grid. I don’t necessarily agree with all the mappings (for example – he argues that the Tea Party is a ‘strong decentralized model’. Humble opinion … It might have started that way – but these days most of its activities are heavily managed and controlled centrally and so I would place them in the Castle quadrant. Apple on the other hand – much as I want it not to be ‘a castle’. I think he’s right. It is. Still, in many cases, there is always going to be an element of subjectivity and in all cases movement around the quadrants. The key though is not so much the separation of the model (the y axis), as much as the separation of the values (the x axis). The VALUES separation is a very hard dividing line (as summarized in the first illustration.
And you will notice that Uber is positioned very much on the left of that line, and Lyft – the number two – a little bit to the right.
I think it is all based on who benefits from the platform as to whether it is there for the social good. It is clear that Wikipedia, a very specific and clear platform, sits in the ‘Crowds’ category. That is, to the right of the spectrum – which is where the final graphic fits in.
The platform work we seek at Beyond Bridges is very much in the ‘crowd’ category. I also hope that as we involve ourselves with the platforms we do, that the co-owning talked about is not just in content and assets – but indeed the platform itself. Akin if you will to the old cooperatives of England in the 19th century.