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How I Fell Off My Digital Platform Shoes

by Bethe Tomasek


The mid-1990s saw the reemergence of the platform shoe. It also saw the popular adoption of the internet. Check this out! We’ve obviously come a long way since that time, not only in fashion, but in our understanding of what the internet can do. Those of us in marketing have also come a long way, but in some respects many are at the early stages of creating the digital platform their company needs. Today we understand the digital platform in its broadest context: iOS is a digital platform, a search engine is a digital platform, Zillow is a digital platform.

Just as many people have fallen off their platform shoes (including models! We could provide a link, but they are easy to search), many digital initiatives have come and gone over time. The combination of successful technology platforms and business models is rare, and those that have done it well are the giants of today, with market capitalizations surpassing the former giants of technology. To make a successful platform, you need people to participate, there needs to be a product and there has to be a payoff. Many digital platforms have that though, so why do they still fail?

This post will not focus on what the success factors are in creating a digital platform, but in the juicier portions of how digital platforms fail.

Reasons Digital Platforms Fail

Not Involving the Developer Community
Platforms need the developer community to add to the platform, and connect to the broader community via the users of those developers’ products. Gaining this involvement is something that must be thoughtfully planned for.

Not Open Enough
We all know the story of closed Apple vs. open Microsoft, and how Apple turned that around by opening iOS. Platforms need to be open and easily accessible.

Not Sharing with the Broader Community
This is often the factor least thought about. Platforms need to provide value to all participants. Zillow for example provides value to real estate agents as well as consumers, and this in turn encourages them to engage and advertise.

Not Enough Mass
This is the most obvious. Bigger isn’t just better. Bigger is bigger. While platforms might survive in niches (and most start in them), they need critical mass to succeed. You need to be a serious player or another platform will steal your idea and become dominant.

Join the Technology Leaders

Like platform shoes, the right platform can lift your company up to where it can be seen by the multitudes and make you the star of the scene. Sitefinity can prevent common platform failures by helping you to involve your developer community, providing the openness that encourages participation and allowing sharing with the broader community. You’ll only need to supply the imagination and drive to produce a successful digital platform and join the ranks of the technology leaders.

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  1. Barbara Noonan Sep 29, 2016
    Great article.  Very informative. Don't go back to platform shoes

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