Photo: Sam Liew
Digital industry platforms and ecosystems are fuelling the next wave of breakthrough innovation and disruptive growth for global companies.
According to Accenture Technology Vision 2015 report, 39 percent of executives surveyed are using industry platforms to both integrate data and applications and collaborate with digital business partners, while 35 percent are experimenting with industry platforms.
Companies can use these platforms to rapidly innovate, develop and deploy the products and solutions needed to drive their digital business strategies. This foundation drives better operation practices, as well as create new kinds of revenue streams. Accenture calls this trend the "Platform (R)evolution", and it is one of five pivotal technology trends outlined in the Accenture Technology Vision 2015.
Underpinned by digital technologies including social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and the Internet of Things, platforms feature a well-defined technical architecture, firm governance and a set of reusable technology services, all focused on the creation of new industry-specific applications.
In the digital economy, these platforms also serve as business model strategies that create competitive differentiation. The key characteristic of a platform-based business is that its users create value for the enterprise, and in many cases, facilitate entirely new digital models for the enterprise. Companies such as Apple, Facebook and Salesforce.com paved the way with their platform-based businesses.
Four out of five respondents (81 percent) in Accenture's survey believe that in the future, industry boundaries will dramatically blur as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.
Even now, established non-tech industry enterprises are moving forward with major strategic initiatives to become platform-based businesses.
In fact, 75 percent of survey respondents believe that the next generation of platforms will be led by industry players and leaders rather than large tech companies. And nearly three quarters (74 percent) are using or experimenting with industry platforms to integrate data with digital business partners.
GE, for example, has formed a number of strategic relationships with Amazon Web Services, Pivotal, Softbank, and Cisco to accelerate the adoption of its GE Predix software platform. This serves as the foundation for connecting machines, people and analytics to the Industrial Internet. Meanwhile, through its collaboration with Salesforce.com, Philips has launched HealthSuite Digital Platform, an aggressive hospital-to-home connected-care platform.
Of course, platform strategies are not just for enterprises. In China, the government is using a platform approach to drive its smart city initiatives. Due to China's growing population, the government is turning to technology to solve a wide range of pressing issues, from traffic flow and public transit, to power grid management.
China's smart city platform approach has provided major providers like Schneider Electric an opportunity to address complex urban transportation, building and energy management challenges in an integrated, scalable, and repeatable platform approach.
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