COVID-19 rewrites platform rules
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how we communicate, exercise, receive medical care, relax, shop, travel and work. It remains to be seen whether these disruptive changes will be permanent or transitory.
Our lives are massively dependent on platform companies. From now on, it’s likely that users’ changing behaviors will force platform companies to rethink how they operate. In today’s highly challenging environment, there is tremendous opportunity for them to exhibit strong leadership, forge lasting partnerships, bring tangible benefits and demonstrate their true value.
Challenges – today and tomorrow
To remain relevant, platform companies should address four key areas now, and in the future:
1. Unprecedented usage levels / use-case explosion
More people are online more frequently and for longer periods. And they’re using a broader range of devices. We’re also seeing an enormous migration from offline to online for many businesses that are essential to our everyday lives – including healthcare and education. This not only increases burdens on infrastructure, but also stretches existing product functionality to its limits, exposing key deficiencies. Current systems are constrained. How can platform companies scale to meet increased and diversified demand?
- What to do NOW: Understand who’s using the platform and for what. Keep in touch with customers to transparently address any concerns they have. And keep a close eye on the competition.
- What to do NEXT: To deal with significant ongoing change, platform companies must reevaluate operational support capabilities to ensure a seamless user experience. The right touchpoints need to be put in place for every stage of the user journey. Make the whole organization aware of new functionality so they can plan and communicate effectively. And make sure customers are always kept in the loop.
2. Evolving at speed
To secure survival, platform companies must rapidly evolve products and services, using their user base and its changing demands as a blueprint. People are using platforms, products and services in ways that are adjacent to their intended use-cases and platform companies should think about how to accommodate these new requirements.
- What to do NOW: It must be as easy as possible for new users to get started on the platform. Non-business-critical barriers should be removed. Explore partnerships to rapidly add new capabilities. And keep a laser-focus on security to retain and grow user trust.
- What to do NEXT: To speed product evolution, revisit product development processes to ensure increased agility and faster time-to-market. Enhance or create mechanisms for developer feedback to stay at the cutting-edge. Upgrade security and communicate changes to enterprise users and maintain secure access for remote users.
3. Engage Developers
According to a recent Accenture study of US developers:
Source: Accenture 2018 US Developer Ecosystem Survey
With developer ecosystems increasingly becoming a differentiator, platforms that don’t address nuanced developer needs may struggle to be global businesses and, more importantly, be on the wrong end of the next disruption.
- What to do NOW: Identify candidate companies for collaboration and engage with developers within these companies. Foster engagement with them by evaluating where the ecosystem can be opened quickly and decide which integrations to build on top of the platform/combine with existing services.
- What to do NEXT: Revisit the commercial model to ensure ROI is there for developers. Invest in the tools developers need, ensure support is there if needed and provide self-service where possible. Make cloud migration a priority for critical services. And get the marketing mix right, especially where new technology capabilities are concerned.
4. Commercial sustainability
As user numbers grow, so does the cost of doing business. To deal with this, companies must consider the level of investment required, where it is best applied and when there will be a return on that investment. The final part is key – if there’s no path to incremental revenue, it’s game over. So, establishing how to balance requisite short-term expenditure with longer-term profitability is non-negotiable.
- What to do NOW: Create a commercial task team to evaluate best- and worst-case scenarios, with a focus on the business, its employees, customers and partners. Adjust interim commercial models to meet users’ emerging needs. Identify short-term investments to enhance existing products so new users can easily come onboard. And establish/refresh customer retention plans.
- What to do NEXT: Explore the viability of each new product use-case and product enhancement, establish upfront/ongoing costs, and calculate ROI. Evaluate existing, or new customer needs and identify how to bridge the gaps. Check the commercial model is generating traction. Does freemium access result in enough conversions? Is pricing information easily available? What high-touch services will customers respond to?
How we can help
We’re helping platforms adapt to what’s happening now and prepare for what comes next. Our services include: