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The platform economy isn't just for start-ups

Sam Liew, Managing Director, Technology, ASEAN, Accenture | Aug. 3, 2016
What are the three approaches to consider when entering the platform economy?

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Speak of the platform economy and Uber and Airbnb spring to mind. In Asia, Grab and RedMart are familiar apps that people use to book a cab or buy groceries with. These digital-born companies are the pioneers of the platform economy.

Platform owners such as Grab and RedMart are less interested in selling a product or service than building a digital platform for others to do so. The difference has been likened to that of a shopping mall and roadside store.

A mall benefits from scale and infrastructure sharing. And the mall owner, instead of doing everything himself, works with his diverse retail tenants to draw crowds. The roadside store, however, doesn't benefit from any of these network effects. As a result, it often struggles to compete on the same scale as a mall.

The platform economy is one of five trends that Accenture highlights in Technology Vision 2016 that will have a profound impact on businesses in the next three to five years. For consumers, a platform such as a mall means a convenient one-stop shop. For businesses, it means lower cost to scale, access to external capabilities and the ability to serve customers holistically.

In Thailand, for example, Node provides an online platform for users to offer or rent space for meeting rooms or offices. Tenants can find space that fits their needs and only pay for what they use. And owners maximise space usage and rental yield. Node also makes the tedious task of aligning booking time and duration effortless for tenants and owners.

How can non-tech companies thrive in the platform economy?

While the platform economy is dominated by start-ups and technology companies for now, these digital-born players won't be the only ones dominating the game soon.

Digital leaders from non-tech sectors are building their presence in the platform economy. They're taking their expertise, connections and invaluable experience to build their own platforms or band together for a platform that works in their favor.

In fact, research firm IDC predicts that more than 50 percent of large enterprises -and more than 80 percent of enterprises with advanced digital transformation strategies -will be involved in the platform economy by 2018.

Honeywell, for example, understands that consumers increasingly expect connected and integrated experiences in their smart homes. Homeowners often seek professional help for furnace and air conditioner issues. And these issues can only be solved via a home visit, which takes time and money.

Honeywell thus created a dealer portal that integrates data from its heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) setups in American homes. This allows contractors to offer complementary maintenance services by responding to customers' questions and needs in real-time with accurate information on the platform. With this, Honeywell creates a new revenue stream from contractor subscription, and serves customers better.


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