Think twice before claiming your solution is a platform

It’s tempting to aspire to being a “Platform” solution when you are a software company. A platform comes with many advantages like the “platform effect” that drives a fly wheel of solutions, and sticky customers. Platforms have phenominal brand strenght and usually great economics for all participants.

But here is the harsh reality. You don’t create a platform, your customers and partners do. They decide to build on your software and turn it into a platform. They decide to “standardize” on your technology.

Also, “Customers buy Solutions, they don’t buy Platform”.

Finally, positioning your software as a platform comes with advantages, but also at a cost. Here are some things to consider that your audience might be hearing when you position your self as a platform:

  1. That sounds Complex

  2. Does my team need training?

  3. Will I get vendor Lock-in?

  4. That’s arrogant, claiming to be a platform

  5. Platform sounds Amorphous. What do I actually get?

Of course there are many ways to interpret the word Platform (Solutions Platform, Technology Platform, Industry Platform), and thus it’s hard to say if the word could help you or hurt you. It’s exactly this ambiguity though, that should have you think twice before you decide to aspire to be a platform.

In the end, customers and partners make a platform (like the iPhone appstore, windows, LAMP or SQL), not the vendor.