Welcome To Platform Land

  • August 25, 2022
  • Reading time: 2 min

These days, the term ‘platform’ is bandied around a lot. You’ve got your communications platforms (Meta, Twitter), your innovation platforms (GitHub, Apple), your marketplace platforms (Alibaba, Amazon), your workplace platforms (LinkedIn, Fiverr), and your finance platforms (Visa, Stripe). That said, it’s sometimes hard to know what these platforms have in common. Or what actually makes them platforms and not just, well, websites.

According to Billy Hamilton-Stent, CSO of Octopus Group, platforms are ecosystems, hubs, and networks. “They’re principally places where people can collaborate, transact and exchange in really simple ways. That’s what turns a website into a platform,” he said during his speaker slot at B2B Marketing Ignite. Most excitingly for the marketer, the platform model can provide ample opportunity for automation and partnerships. But let’s look at both the opportunities and the pitfalls platforms have to offer.


The prospect of partnership ecosystems is particularly thrilling for marketers. As Alex Moazed, the founder of Applico, has said, “Platforms don’t own the means of production, they create the means of connection.” Or, in Billy’s words: “When you’re a marketer, the means of connection is really your stock-in-trade, your currency, it’s what you do.”

That said, there is a downside to the collaborative approach. When you create and promote partnership ecosystems, you sacrifice an element of control. This can be off-putting. After all, what business wants to be impacted by forces beyond its control?


According to Gartner, 83 percent of B2B buyers prefer ordering or paying through digital commerce. McKinsey, meanwhile, says 70 percent of B2B decision-makers would make “new, fully self-serve or remote purchases” of more than $50,000, and 27 percent would spend more than $500,000.

Despite this willingness to embrace e-commerce, it’s important not to completely lose the human touch. If you automate every aspect of the sales process, there’s a risk that you won’t provide buyers with the customer experience they want or need – especially in B2B land, where the financial stakes are often far greater.


A world defined by increasing amounts of automation is similarly defined by increasing amounts of data, which businesses can scrutinize to make their processes more efficient.

This might sound like a good thing, but such data is often woefully underutilized. Having a lot of data but no time to look through it is about as useful as having no data at all – and so for organisations with platform aspirations, it’s essential to have a data team with a data plan.


Increasingly, businesses (particularly at the enterprise level) do aspire to become platforms. When you consider the success of businesses such as Meta, Amazon, and LinkedIn, it’s easy to see why. Indeed, if there is a common thread throughout the aforementioned platforms, it’s their success.

But while platforms are often considered the embodiment of digital B2B maturity, it’s crucial not to view the platform model through rose-tinted glasses. While it might seem great to have as much data as Meta, to be as automated as Amazon, or as collaborative as LinkedIn, platform models come with their challenges too. The task for the coming years is navigating the journey from website to platform successfully.

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