Digital Platforms And Cloud — Looking Beyond The Buzzwords
Joining Forrester As A New Analyst With Two Questions In Mind
I recently joined Forrester as a senior analyst to pursue my dream as a research analyst and follow my passion for digital platforms and cloud strategies. During my career, I have been helping clients who are dealing with digital transformation to evaluate and select from digital platforms and cloud offerings (see my Forrester bio here). So, let me give you a quick outline on what I plan to cover over the next few months across both of these domains.
If you believe the hype, these days everything is a platform, everybody is going digital, and every company wants to move to the cloud — of course. The terminology of a “digital platform” is often used to describe and shape business and technology strategies, whilst moving to the cloud seems to become imperative. Technology leaders understand that digital platforms and cloud are a key element of their future fit strategy. But in this context, two vital questions have come up in client conversations again and again: 1) is every offering or solution that vendors and tech execs call a “platform” indeed a platform? and 2) how can the cloud really help to enable digital transformation?
Digital Operations Platforms Vs. Solutions: Understanding The Differences
Whenever I talk to clients about what Forrester calls digital operations platforms (DOPs), they ask about the difference between digital solutions and digital platforms. My usual answer is that a solution could be seen as the part of a platform that satisfies certain specific functional requirements. Conversely, the platform notion encompasses the overall value proposition around a solution. Therefore, the definition of platform includes the nonfunctional requirements as well as its accessibility, engagement, customization, connectivity, and collaboration features.
Such features should enable platforms to address the five behaviors of customers (and users) in the digital age: access, engage, customize, connect, and collaborate (David L. Rogers, The Network Is Your Customer, Yale University Press, 2010). These behaviors influenced the B2C strategies of digital platform-based firms such as Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Netflix, and the like. Nowadays, they also drive the transformation of major enterprise solutions from internally focused systems, like enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), HR, Workplace, and others, to a more connected and collaborative ecosystem. At Forrester, I will specialize in the evolution of ERP to DOPs by working with our broad ecosystem of vendors and users.
Shifting To Digital: The Cloud Becomes The Norm
With COVID-19 and the switch to remote working of millions of users, firms have accelerated their cloud journeys to allow remote connectivity. As a result, the paradigm changed from one office for many people to many offices for one person. This presented a whole new set of requirements and demands to firms and users. All in all, this shift has accelerated cloud adoption in order to ensure accessibility of key solutions necessary to carry on users’ duties and firms’ activities — even after the pandemic.
From a broader perspective, there are three interesting aspects in the cloud context. First, cloud can facilitate the development of ecosystems where users and firms become connected nodes of broader networks existing in the cloud. Secondly, from a tooling perspective, cloud is making an increasing number of tools and services available to firms with the click of a mouse. Finally, a variety of licensing and subscription plans allows companies of any size to take advantage of cloud’s opportunities.
Whilst tech leaders are getting ready to leverage these opportunities, vendors are playing a pivotal role as enablers of their clients’ cloud strategies. My aim is to explore and analyze these dynamics and build meaningful research to help our tech exec clients to make strategic decisions in their vendor choices.
If you are interested in future fit DOPs and cloud, keep following my research. In the upcoming months, I am going to publish a RACI matrix for DOP development, an enterprise apps operating model report, and a Forrester Wave™ on public cloud offerings in Europe. Stay tuned. The best is yet to come!