Great meeting last night: Changing the Game: The Age of the Platform Meets the 24-hour Customer produced by the California Chapter of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals. The event, hosted by Cisco Systems, featured two new authors of two game changing books. Phil Simon spoke about how the Gang of Four – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google redefined business through their pervasive platforms. Adrian Ott author of the 24-Hour Customer gave further insight on how business is redefined by establishing time as the new currency. Sherick Murdoff, VP of Partner Development at salesforce.com also a panelist explained how salesforce.com built a partner ecosystem on the force.com platform and created a time magnet by adding social media planks to their platform.
These trends cause us to rethink how we build partner ecosystems and their role. Traditionally these partners served some role in a customer value chain; however in the case of Google, the partners’ role is to bring more users to the Google platform which is monetized through advertising. Key to maintaining a vibrant platform is to continually delight the user, keeping the experience fresh, interesting. The Gang of Four do this exceptionally well. Much was discussed about cultures of customer delight as power has shifted to the consumer and they pay with their attention.
Salesforce.com spoke of their service department as the “Customer for Life” dept. An apt name and goal since as a subscription business they need to earn the business with every renewal.
Groupon despite its meteoric growth and blockbuster IPO is actually at risk as platform. They have not built up a partner community so growth is all on their shoulders. They are vulnerable to lesser known competitors such as AnalogAnalytics who offer a daily deal coupon platform to 1000’s of local newspapers, radio stations and their local advertisers, tapping into existing local ecosystems.
Netflix is another blockbuster at risk. They are not a platform. They are a one plank offer with no partner ecosystem to sustain them. They are also vulnerable to what Ott labels a prairie dog event. Netflix relies on customer inattention to sustain their business. Customers continue their service as long as there are not events that motivate them to make a change. Netflix recent rate change was such an event. Customers popped out of their holes of inattention and began to look for alternatives. Netflix could do well by partnering with a platform company such as Facebook.