What is a digital platform? And should you care?

Digital platforms help businesses to enhance user experience in order to attract new customers and to unlock new channels and products or services.

Most organisations are adopting digital platforms for smart consumption of digital assets in order to maximise operational excellence, improve profitability, implement intelligent processes, monetise internal resources and enhance the customer experience. Also, digital platforms provide services which enables the IT and e-commerce organisations to quickly resolve issues and problems in order to provide higher levels of business user satisfaction at reduced cost.

They come in different flavours

While the term “digital platforms” includes anything from search engines (Google and Bing), to social platforms (Facebook and Snapchat), all the way to IaaS providers and PaaS providers (such as AWS and Azure), digitalised business technology is becoming increasingly refined.

When you look around, you will notice a few classes of digital platform:

  • Aggregation Platforms: Help facilitate transactions and connect users to data resources.
  • Social Platforms: Help in facilitating social interactions and connecting individuals to communities.
  • Mobilisation Platforms: Facilitate mobilisation and moving people to act together. This model tends to foster longer-term relationships to achieve shared goals.
  • Enterprise Platforms: Help to centralise and publish the wide variety of applications used with organisation in order to improve management and control of the IT investment but also to help employees quickly find the solutions they need.

There are, of course, many more examples and categories...

What makes a digital platform good?

The platform you choose is going to have to meet a variety of needs but some of the most important aspects to look for include:

  • It has to scale elastically (ideally automatically) and offer a range of entry touch-points
  • It should be able to support one to millions of customers
  • It must enable global, distributed large and small organisations
  • It's going to have to integrate with the business processes of growing numbers of partners, suppliers and even competitors
  • Workflow, messaging and collaboration is key to ensure momentum and buy-in
  • If you're going to be interfacing with customers commercially, you've got to have a solid e-Commerce engine built in
  • Most importantly, security, privacy and data protection are paramount - especially if your digital platform is going to live in the Cloud.

Bottom line

The right digital platform will connect, inspire, put to work and support your people, your clients and your partners.

The difference between digitsation, digitalisation and digital transformation

The difference between digitsation, digitalisation and digital transformation

The difference between these three terms seems somewhat innocuous, doesn't it. However, these are some pretty important concepts that you should understand when you plan to take your business down the digital highway.

Digitisation

Digitisation happens when you create a digital representation of physical objects. In other words, digitisation is about converting something non-digital into a digital representation or artefact. For example, when you scan a paper document and save it as a digital document you're digitising it or when you capture hand-written notes into a word-processing application like Microsoft Word.

Digitalisation

Digitisation and digitalisation are closely associated. They are often used interchangeably but they are two different things.

Digitalisation is the process of leveraging digitisation to enable, improve or transform business processes. That means that digitisation is a key requirement to effectively digitalise your processes. The term refers to the use of digital technologies and data to create revenue, improve business and create a digital culture where digital information is at the core. It converts processes to be more efficient, productive, and profitable.

Some examples:

  • Uploading a PDF document from a computer's hard drive to the Cloud and sharing it with many people
  • Uploading digital movies from CD, DVD or Blu-Ray discs to online services. People can download or rent them.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the profound transformation of business activities, competencies and business models to fully leverage the opportunities of digital technologies. The main goal is to improve efficiency, manage risk or discover new monetisation opportunities. Digital transformation is, simply put, doing things in a new (digital) way.

Some examples:

  • Reading the data from an online PDF or moving the data from a Google Sheet into an app or system that will analyse the data. The goal is to generate insights to offer new products or improve customer service. This process doesn't need a lot of human interaction because it is automated. As a result, it enhances efficiency, reduces costs and may lead to increased sales.
  • Streaming movies online. Collecting data from clients to analyse it, preparing individual recommendations, offers and advertisements.
  • A company has personal information about many customers. Other companies have to verify personal information to do business (e.g. banks, insurance companies, cellphone operators). Based on the customer information it possesses, the company provides an identity verification product for other companies who want to verify a person’s information and since the company has so much customer information, other companies likely use this identity verification product.