Platform lesson #8: Instrument your platform for data-driven decisions

William Edwards Demming, the American who helped Japan rebuild itself after World War II, famously said: “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” This is still a lesson most companies haven’t fully incorporated. Once a platform gets a certain amount of traction, the opportunity to make data-driven decisions presents itself. This is incredibly … Read more

Platform lesson #7: Constantly optimize commodity for TCO

In earlier posts, I’ve introduced the Three Layer Product Model (3LPM). Similar to all other software, platforms have three layers of functionality: innovative and experimental, differentiating and commodity. Functionality typically starts as innovative and, when it resonates with customers, becomes differentiating. The differentiating functionality drives sales and market share, causing competitors to develop similar functionality … Read more

Platform lesson #5: Distinguish customer-unique and customer-first functionality

The idea behind platforms is to share functionality between different products and make it available to as many customers as efficiently and quickly as possible. This is one driver for continuously incorporating new features into the platform. Incorporating new features can be done using a product-first approach or a platform-first approach. In the product-first approach, … Read more

Platform lesson #4: Don’t integrate new functionality too quickly

Any solution aiming to stay relevant needs to continuously integrate new, innovative functionality. The main reason is that functionality commoditizes over time so that if we wouldn’t add new features, the entire product or platform would commoditize and become irrelevant. Commodity software isn’t necessarily useless, as proven by quite a bit of open-source software, but … Read more

Platform lesson #1: Platforms should focus on speed, not efficiency

Traditional thinking is that platforms are about efficiency through reuse. Product teams get a bunch of functionality for free from the platform and only have to build the remaining product-specific functionality. The interesting thing about software reuse is that it’s been extremely successful at the inter-company level. The amount of software that’s being reused through … Read more

Entrepreneur lesson #10: It will take twice as long, if you’re lucky

One company I worked with analyzed the businesses they had tried to build over the years. Their analysis showed that the most successful business inside the walls of an already highly successful company took, on average, 7 years to reach 50 million in revenue. And this was with the entire weight, network and customer base … Read more