March 13, 2019
Stepping into the platform era
By: Kenneth Akpati

It is no-longer news that we are living in the platform era. Technology giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple are spearheading the platform revolution. For enterprise leaders, this revolution has not only made it easier to accelerate development and scale their businesses; they’ve also ushered in a completely new business model embraced by numerous organizations, regardless of size.

While platforms have been around for ages, the proliferation of platform-centric businesses has taken the market by storm. From social media platforms to enterprise Platform-as-a-Service (PAAS) offerings, it seems like everyone is trying to take a bite out of the cake.

Platforms have existed for decades. Why the sudden change? There are multiple answers to this question.

For one, technology is changing rapidly and many businesses seek a competitive advantage to accelerate product time-to-market. The ability to quickly transform new ideas into real software and evolve based on consumer demands is at an all-time high, and platforms have played a huge role making this possible.

Secondly, the speed at which information is shared is getting faster hence increasing the visibility to new platform services.

While all the examples mentioned above have played a significant role in the proliferation of platforms, perhaps the biggest drivers are new business models focused on the consumerization of technology.

Powered by APIs and SDKs and further boosted by “super platforms,” like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, businesses large and small are now able to quickly spin up software engineering environments like never before, leading to multiple platform extensions tailor-made to solve multiple industry problems. Need to manage Linux containers on Windows machines? There’s a platform for that too. Need to deploy AWS workloads from Azure applications? I bet there’s a platform for that! As business models rotate toward becoming more customer-centric, the need to create partnerships and communities is on the rise, resulting in the creation of more platforms and extensions to facilitate these partnerships.

What does this all mean for the future of software engineering? At least three things:

Accelerated Innovation

The market now demands a very short build-deploy-iterate lifecycle. With platforms, product and software development teams can accelerate past complex application set up processes to facilitate quicker build and deployment times, which leads to faster feedback from customers, enabling product adaptability and innovation over time.

Increased Scalability

Businesses often struggle with the need to expand as their customer base increases. Infrastructure provisioning and cost of maintenance have always been frightful. With the growth in PAAS offerings, organizations now can scale with ease, as all the complexities involved with building and managing infrastructure elasticity are encapsulated and presented with a one-click deployment approach that eliminates time waste and increases an organization’s ability to scale vertically and horizontally.

Cost and Resource Efficiency

What will a technology pitch be without the emphasis on reducing costs and manual labor? The platform revolution will lead to the automation of multiple software engineering tasks, making it easier for software engineers to be laser-focused on product development, leading to rapid delivery of software products, and increasing resource efficiency.

Platform product teams can focus on increasing development velocity by replacing the archaic role of operational engineers with more development resources. From a cost perspective, automation facilitated by platforms eliminates the need for engineers to perform several tasks, which reduces the overall time to deliver software products and increased cost savings.

But let’s take a closer look at the economies of scale; as organizations invest more in platforms and less in building out their own infrastructure, the time and cost involved in the development and maintenance of the multiple environments needed to support multiple applications across the organization is drastically reduced due to increased automation from no code/low code platform implementations.

In a nutshell, we are living in the platform era. The organizations able to quickly embrace this new way of building and managing software can enjoy a significant amount of market share and drive value for their customers in the near future.

Over the next couple of months on the Accenture Software Engineering blog, I will dive deeper into the world of platforms, including an examination of some of the top platforms shaping the way we do IT.

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