Top Reads: Platforms and Ecosystems

Digitization has changed the rules of competition with incumbent companies most at risk of being left behind. Previously, businesses that integrated digital technologies to their company's architecture were seen as the leaders in their industry. Now however, society's heavy reliance on digital technologies has not only rewritten consumer expectations, but is blurring the borders between industries. As a platform provider in the insurance industry, I am witnessing first hand the value that platforms and ecosystems are having across all industries in meeting new consumer demands.

A platform is a business model that allows consumers and producers to engage and exchange value with one another, examples of which include Facebook, Uber, Amazon, Alibaba, Airbnb and Netflix. Ecosystems, on the other hand, bring together a variety of services to provide solutions to multiple consumer needs. Due to the rise in platforms, industries are building more platform technologies and connecting ecosystems together, which according to McKinsey & Company is predicted to account for 35% of global revenues by 2025.

Here are six articles that provide you with the most current thinking about platforms and ecosystems and their impact on the insurance industry, product design and the future of business. Please share any feedback on these and we welcome your suggestions if you think we’ve missed any.

1. Insurance beyond digital: the rise of ecosystems and platforms

Digitization has transformed how goods and services are produced, shared and delivered. Instead of traditional business models, where companies compete for customers, we are seeing the rise of participatory models, where consumers and producers can directly engage with one another. As our world becomes more interconnected and digitally driven, the industry has the opportunity to leverage platforms and ecosystems to build digital relationships and thrive in the digital economy.

2. Platform business models are transforming insurance

In this article, Sangeet Paul Choudary provides readers with tangible examples of how the insurance industry is moving towards creating multi-sided ecosystems. He shows how the rise of platforms can positively impact insurers and how the industry can capitalize on platform technology by providing consumers with the digital experiences they have come to expect.

3. Where Uber and Amazon rule: welcome to the world of the platform

Powerful tech firms like Uber, Amazon, Airbnb and Facebook, have not just shifted consumers purchasing power, but are transforming our entire global economic model. This article discusses how most platforms are parasitic in that they are scaling rapidly because of existing economic and social relations - a concept critics have termed “platform capitalism.” By looking at the exponential growth of companies like Amazon, the authors show how no industry will be unaffected by platform fever.

4. Design for interconnectedness

Traditionally, product design has been centered around identifying customers biggest challenges and providing them with a product that solves their problems or makes their lives easier. Simone Cicero, shows how companies can no longer use this traditional approach to product design and must create offerings that connect both consumers and producers. This is an excellent read for all professionals who want to move towards designing products and services that leverage the power of platform thinking.

5. The camera as a platform

Allison Wood discusses how the internet is nearing the end of the mobile computing phase and is entering the next phase, spatial computing. By snapping a picture on your smartphone and sharing it online in real time, the camera itself is becoming its own platform This article shows how the spatial computing phase is not only changing businesses, but is transforming our identities by fusing together real life and our online personas into the same time and space.

6. Adjusting to the changing landscapes of ecosystems

Digital disruption brings with it the ability for humans and businesses to connect and engage in ways they have never been able to before. Paul Hobcraft shows how companies must take advantage of many platform technologies and ecosystems and identify the ways that it can put their businesses at a competitive advantage.