In my last blog post, I wrote about what I thought was an emerging phenomena: Data as a platform (DaaP). Boy, I was wrong. Emerging was the wrong adjective. Arrived is far more accurate.
Just take a look at some of the highly successful companies that have embraced platform thinking: Apple, Amazon, Cisco and eBay. These companies have built strong platforms that are the foundation of highly competitive businesses. Each controls the standards for their platform. Each governs the architecture, trade and commerce policy in their ecosystem, and their preference for consumer interaction. Each has successfully shifted from being a product company, pushing features and capabilities, to creating a vibrant community of buyers, sellers and developers, pursuing endless ways to consummate the match between demand and solution. Each is a multibillion-dollar enterprise.
The Ecosystem Opportunity
So there’s your first reason: Platforms, rather than specific applications or technologies, underpin some of the most successful technology-enabled business models today.
Here’s a second reason: Platforms are flexible. Platforms can collapse the distribution steps between content and consumer. For example, music CDs are no longer shipped by box, racked on shelves and posted for resell on storefronts. Enabled by a simple set of platform architecture standards, community appeal and open access, music lovers can share, critique and organize their music – and even barter and trade songs – on the monster-sized platform of their choice. Apple and Amazon have made good businesses offering the best platform UI and performance to a growing number of digital file holders.
“[A platform can be]… adapted to countless needs and niches that the platform’s original developers could not possibly have contemplated.” That comes from Mark Andreessen, venture capitalist, Netscape founder and board member for HP and eBay.
Establishing a Data Platform
A particular lure of DaaP to the data industry is to bring Dun & Bradstreet completely and totally to the cloud, including insight, data fabric, content and customers. The data itself, rather than applications, is the asset being sold and consumed. A data platform exposes possibilities to users and offers new ways to meet their need to manipulate data – regardless of the application. Users are no longer constrained by a single monolithic treatment of data by a single application. This is a significant step forward – and it creates new opportunities for companies willing and able to embrace a platform mindset for data.
Dun & Bradstreet can accelerate a revolution in data, content and analytics production. We are in a position to serve as the backbone for the distribution and consumption of data and services by our own Data as a Platform. This is the functional requirement demanded by our customers and partners. Our platform can enable innovation and consumption around data sets, and it can expose insights unique and individualized to end users and organizations.
To reiterate from my previous post: The challenge here is to make the shift to a user-centered experience. Business analysts want autonomy at their fingertips. They don’t want to be beholden to an enterprise license, or have to take a class to learn how to use the tool. Business Intelligence (BI) software vendors are getting this message loud and clear: Give me the data and the tools I want, when I want them, or I’ll find a platform that will.
No time is better than now. A Dun & Bradstreet data platform can provide functionality and service to end users and partners and allow them to solve for their data needs in an infinite number of ways we can’t yet comprehend. As that value of solutions rise on our platform, so too does allegiance to our content. So that’s our third reason to pay attention to data platforms: Platforms are sticky. The network effect explodes. More about that in my next blog.
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