Platform As Product Strategy To Generate Outsized Economic Surplus

The digital armageddon disrupting the real world comes as ‘Platforms’. Platform for this, platform for that. OLX, Housing.com, TripAdvisor, whatever. And platforms come with a power to disrupt existing businesses.

What is the source of this power. Not just match making.

The power is the way they empower the end user. If they just acted as match makers, the only economic value is reduced transaction value. Instead the really good platforms provide multi-dimensional surplus, which means more value to sell for an OK amount. That offers so must to the users for so little that sticking forever is guaranteed.

We’re developing a platform for Location Managers & Film production houses to come together. The three choices we had were

  • Build all locations data and become subscription product

    Bring all location managers & production houses together and become transactional market place

    Add value added tools for both location managers and production houses to provide a surplus value that ensure transaction stickiness

By creating Location Manager portfolios and allowing them to bid on new shooting schedules coming up, we ensured their ambit of opportunities expanded drastically. The production houses, on the other hand running on tight budgets and tighter schedules, can now have a certainty about their shooting locations. Too much economic surplus through the value added tools to both parties. That’s user’s creating value for other users -essence of network effect.

And a core value addition is the identification of the risk that platform can absorb better than it’s user – by bringing all location managers on the platform we ensured they are on an industry standard, and because they’re on industry standard we expect zero defaults from them for the pure reputational risk and the risk of getting banned from a business generating platform. In turn, we use this leverage to get better & uniform terms for the production houses and thus provide them stability and predibictibility. Against this predictibility, the production houses must pay upfront to ensure quicker cash flow cycles for the LMs. All sides win.

A platform investment model is therefore different from the efficiency model. Not to have all players but to make them interact in ways where the net surplus benefits all. That’s the true platform strategy executed through a good product.

 

Extreme Programming & Product Design

I’ve never been involved with projects that are not short of something. Time, money, patience, wisdom something.. or everything, is always short.

The the thing that’s always short is – plan.

And designing products while business is being rolled out is the most significant challenge I’ve faced. Product design requires thoughfulness, business rollout requires relentless execution. And, over a period I’ve come to acquire a few ideas in product design from extreme programming.

XP attempts to reduce the cost of changes in requirements by having multiple short development cycles, rather than a long one. In this doctrine, changes are a natural, inescapable and desirable aspect of software-development projects, and should be planned for, instead of attempting to define a stable set of requirements.

Same principle applies creates Extreme Product Design. End goals are fixed, but you’ve to reach there while meeting the market. A good product designs gives up more than it takes, but giving up while taking on clutter during business execution requires a methodical focus and product planning processes in place.

Abstractions of Org Processes

When people come together to work, they organise it into processes. For a good collaboration product, the process creation should be extremely easy, accessible to multiple people and should able to merge based on best process that emerges.

A process has a creator, an owner, a responder, a flow, escalation points, open or close, enforceable or recommendatory, has data points to be collected at various points, each data point has to be collected through UI pattern & UI pattern should intuitively approximate user behaviour in offline world, psychologically.

This whole thing should be representable as a matrix. The matrix when loaded into the engine attaches organisational processes to the communication channel.

Activating bot, starts the monitoring & navigating help process for anybody who enters the product.


Merging

Multiple processes at times may have to be merged or made to mirror reference process. This process should be similar to Git. Its a git for organisational processes or data points.


Engine

The Zen of Productivity Product

Currently orgs use tools of the past. Business cycles have compressed, time windows to success have shortened. More has to be done with less in lesser time. Cognitive burden has increased. But orgs continue to use tools of the past, creating outward spiraling cognitive load. This causes friction & an org layer dedicated to friction removal.

Ideal is minimum viable org to meet the biz goal, and no more.

For this we see an org as org dynamics layer & underlying work layer. Org can be minimized by simplification of org dynamics to minimize cognitive load. The underlying work layer, specific to each industries & built on wisdom of last generation of technology, needs design thinking applied for simplification & minimization.

Org = Planning + Execution + Underlying Work Process + Actions

Planning = Direction+Judgements+Decisions+Tasks + Classification +Timeline +Accountability+Measurability+Visibility+Bottlenecks

Execution = Communication +Action+Escalations +Decisions

UWP = Input Trigger+Value Adding Actions

Actions = Defined flow of steps + Tackling unknown + Skill Development +Feedback To Process Definition.


UI Pattern To Relate To Human Actions

A human interacts with UI based on intuition & experience. Earlier enterprise applications created ‘work flow’ which a human was expected to follow through forms and controls.

We intend to transform the experience from forms to UI elements that related to user more intuitively. e.g. A simple checklist is intuitively understood as creation of work, its priority, its due date, creator as work giver and responder as doer of work, tick as sign of delivery, measure of finishing, visibility etc.

An untick by another user can be construed as supervisor’s disapproval of work done. A ticking cycle indicates how many iterations. The time between ticks indicates pace, clustering of ticks indicates using product as compliance rather than collaboration tool. Several behavioural patterns are hidden in micro data related with simple UI elements which can be used to identify & eliminate frictional behaviour. Ultimately topography of a product educates & aligns the user to the product’s intention.

What can be inferred by implication, should not be asked.


Session 3 — Bundle Ideas

Several ideas emerge from the discussion.

  1. Work flow systems that link work but ignore human behaviour vs flow of work, human centered process where platform senses the meaning through measurement.
  2. Build in 10% cost 60% value, rather than 100% cost & 100% value
  3. Organisational layer resides on underlying work processes, organizational dynamics is a protocol layer to be abstracted into the product.
  4. The topography of the product should align the behaviour of the user to the objective by intrinsic motives rather than enforce rules.
  5. Synchronised flow of work reduces cognitive overload
  6. Hygiene processes can be abstracted into automation with a lot of effectiveness.

About Prodio

Above excerpt is from session 3-Bundle Ideas & session 4- create framework of Prodio’s product design sessions. These immersive sessions aim to explore several layers of problem to arrive at a path to minimum viable product.