Platforms

As they are today, information and communication technologies are mind blowing and the speed of technological development is completely beyond what my brain can visualise. We are living exponential times and we seem to be in the steep section of the curve. In his article, ‘The AI revolution‘,  Tim Urban successfully explains the accelerating rate of human technological development, and I must agree with him that it seems that something truly singular is coming our way. One key factor for this accelerating effect is our capacity to engage in collective action, be it in small teams or as a species.

Whether we like it or not, the vast majority of our collective action is carried out online, using technology, and we do it on platforms. Even the experts underestimated our capacity to coordinate our efforts on those platforms to achieve wonderful things. The CEO of Airbnb tweeted back in 2014 that Marriot wanted to grow their portfolio with 30,000 new guestrooms during that year, and said that Airbnb achieved that in only two weeks. That growth could only be achieved because Airbnb is a platform, providing a space for consumers to become producers and to share that abundance. Wherever you look nowadays, you will see platforms.

Two books I particularly like, The Connected Company and Reinventing Organizations, talk precisely about business transformation, moving away from the machine-like vertical structures and evolving towards a network-like horizontal structures. And again, most of those networks are interacting on some sort of digital platform. A few weeks ago I met Simone Cicero, author of a very useful methodology to design platforms. If you are interested in this topic and are developing an idea around platforms, I recommend you visit his website and you will find all the material under creative commons license.

Further Reading

What explains the rise of humans? By Yuval Noah Harari, London 2015. About how humans managed to differentiate themselves from all the other animals and conquer the world (for good or bad)

We’ve stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers. By Rachel Botsman, Vancouver 2016. About how we are developing new ways of building trust

Platform Design Toolik. The toolkit to help teams and designers create great platforms