Digital Evolutions: Startups, Platforms and Ecosystems


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This presentation was first released as Lecture in two Startup Accelerators lately. The presentation recaps on several digital trends and correlates them with Platform Design, previously covered in the record breaking "Future Proof Design" presentation available here:

In search for new ideas to frame Platform Design as a discipline in a more global discourse regarding the digital market, I went in search of complementary theories: most of this research have been consolidated in this lecture

In parallel, the Platform Design canvas is transforming into a more comprehensive Toolkit. See context here:

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Digital Evolutions: Startups, Platforms and Ecosystems

  1. 1. Digital Evolutions Startups, Platforms and Ecosystems Mentorship Lecture - 25th/26th Sept. 2013 by Simone Cicero - - @meedabyte
  2. 2. Exponential Times Digital Ecologies Platform Design Thinking Digital Evolutions Understanding Dynamics
  3. 3. Exponential Times
  4. 4. everyone is networked with everithing
  5. 5. everyone is networked with everything
  6. 6. Tech Cycles (every 10 years) Now it’s time for Wearable Image from KPCB Internet Trends ‘13
  7. 7. Two main disruption drivers A growing computing density in matter Growing possibilities in AI and Machine Learning
  8. 8. Connectedness = Sharing more and more
  9. 9. Text Pictures Videos Sounds Data Consolidated Explosive Growth Ramping up fast Emerging Emerging Mobile chats, Social networks Vine, Intenet Cams Sound sharing, video chats (eg: Snapchat) Personal Tracking, Quantified Self
  10. 10. Lifelogging!
  11. 11. Data is all & all is Data
  12. 12. Everything it’s personalized. Data are connected and socialized. Devices are allover the place. It’s the Digital Market today.
  13. 13. Nature Humans Technology Interactions “Order doesn't come by itself” Benoit Mandelbrot
  14. 14. chaos
  15. 15. “We're just increasing our humanness and our ability to connect with each other, regardless of geography” Amber Case, (Cyborg Anthropologist) - SXSW Keynote 2012
  16. 16. Non linear dynamics
  17. 17. It’s kinda hard to predict stuff
  18. 18. Illustration: Simon Wardley –
  19. 19. Digital Ecologies
  20. 20. All this demand for innovation drives componentization* as a buyer you push down price and ask for standardization: this creates your competition. * breaking down into cost competitive and interchangeable pieces.
  21. 21. Illustration: Simon Wardley – Increasing competition in demand and supply
  22. 22. Red Queen Effect (evolutionary biology) Regardless of how well a species adapts to its current environment, it must keep evolving to keep up with its (also evolving) competitors.
  23. 23. competition = coevolution
  24. 24. Fortune 500 companies life expectancy in 2013 is 15 years. Was 70 in 1930.
  25. 25. “Software is eating the world” Marc Andreessen
  26. 26. Access + Componentization + Collaboration = the highest disruption rate ever
  27. 27. Long tail = Diversification Diversification = Niches Niches = Economies of Scope
  28. 28. “Whereas economies of scale for a firm primarily refers to reductions in the average cost (cost per unit) associated with increasing the scale of production for a single product type, economies of scope refers to lowering the average cost for a firm in producing two or more products” The Age of Economies of Scope
  29. 29. Designers are increasingly dealing with designing tools that allow users to create value on their own (and within a community). Switching from Economies of scope (multiple products) to User Centric experiences (user customizable products)
  30. 30. “Toolkits for user innovation allow producers to abandon attempts to understand user needs in favor of transferring need-related aspects of product and service development to users along with an appropriate toolkit". Eric Von Hippel
  31. 31. “Unleash your creativity by customizing select products to create exactly what you want with eBay Exact. Simply select a product, choose a design, and add your own personal flair to create a unique item for yourself or someone special”
  32. 32. "Once you finish assembling it, you’re emotionally attached to that. You’ve basically gone through the process to build your own phone” Moto X head product manager - Lior Ron
  33. 33. tools Facilitated Contexts/Channels
  34. 34. Consumers can also become Producers and Designers themselves. Roles can change
  35. 35. allowing peer to peer production
  36. 36. Understanding Dynamics
  37. 37. Digital Market: opportunities & huge competition What Dynamics?
  38. 38. Pioneers Thrive in uncertain times Search for Experimentation Accept Failure Players that face poorly understood markets, trying to define gaps and opportunities, constantly undergoing changing dynamics and small numbers. They want to create the future. Startups
  39. 39. Settlers Learn from feedbacks Investigate needs Spot new trends Players that face increasing demand, growing market opportunities for mature products and revenues that grow accordingly Platforms & Ecosystems
  40. 40. Town Planners Search for self disruptions Base business on measures and scientific models Optimize for operations Leaders/players that face standardized demand and fight growing competition on mature markets. Always focus on essential cost of doing Business. Ecosystems & Industrialization
  41. 41. The ILC Cycle Illustration: Simon Wardley – Innovate Leverage Commoditize (repeat)
  42. 42. Facebook Doesn’t Want To Be Cool, It Wants To Be Electricity
  43. 43. FB Identity Services Opengraph Payment Services ValueChain Genesis Custom Built Product Commodity/Utility Social Networking
  44. 44. Different Dynamics Illustration: Simon Wardley – Startups Platforms Ecosystems
  45. 45. In the Platform phase you must - nurture community - create community support services - identify emerging behaviors - model channels to cope with interactions In this way You increase resilience by enabling peer segments to create their own interactions inside your platform
  46. 46. In the Ecosystem Phase you must - drive cost down and outperform competitors value - be cool with utility like consumption patterns - allow new startups/platforms to grow and monitor use case innovation In this way You increase resilence by enabling other business players to create complex higher value proposition on top of your interface*
  47. 47. Innovation happens: • on top of the interface*: higher value systems (use case innovation) • under the interface*: process maturity, elastic provisioning, measuring (competition) ValueChain *interface: a shared and commonly adopted or standardized protocol or practice
  48. 48. Arduino Most of the innovation happens above the interface (higher value: smaller size, specific features, etc…) as Arduino has become a standard community of knowledge (interface) Microduino (microsize) Flutter (long range) Smartduino (modularity)
  49. 49. Amazon AWS Established Amazon Machine Images as the ruling interface in cloud deployments. Enabled the birth and growth of several (higher) value proposition. Commoditized specific frequent uses cases (eg: Elastic Map Reduce for big data = now a commodity). ValueChain Genesis Custom Built Product Commodity/Utility Amazon Elastic Map Reduce AWS Elastic Beanstalk (beta) AWS OpsWorks PaaS Currently built on AWS Spotted growing usage
  50. 50. Joining an existing Platform and Ecosystem (outstanding opportunities) Typical Stakeholders and contexts: Over The Top players ecosystems Brand related initiatives Corporate innovation strategies Open ecosystems (rare)
  51. 51. The App Ecosystem & OTT Platforms Eg: Building Native Apps to be distributed on Android/iOS Marketplaces
  52. 52. Facebook Eg: Using Facebook Connect and Facebook OpenGraph to enhance social interactions as part ofthe proposition.
  53. 53. It’s not only about APIs: corporate players are increasingly looking for innovation *ecosystems*
  54. 54. Telco players looking for service innovation Manufacturers creating new interfaces and ways to interact with their producs.
  55. 55. Brands with a growing user base looking for disruption. Emerging fields of innovation require a higher experimentation level and inclusive innovation plans
  56. 56. Typical Phases is about builging blocks & dev services is about coaching, infrastructure & customer access is about market channels & numbers Eg: APIs and Infrastructures Startup programs, Events and conferences, Partner programs Marketplaces, distribution agreements
  57. 57. Platform Design Thinking
  58. 58. Grow your startup/product into a Platform (and then, Ecosystem) Transform from a linear/single gap perspective into multilinear engine of value creation enabling Peer Segments to co-create value
  59. 59. Community (relations) Centric User (gap) Centric Platforms target P2P Communities: value creation comes from relations, transactions and exchanges
  60. 60. How to lower Platform opt in cost? The cost/friction for a user to adopt your platform and start creating value
  61. 61. It’s a (co) Design challenge about understanding user contexts and motivations and enabling vaue creation
  62. 62. Some big issues in Peer Platforms: Marketplace Liquidity Exchange Currencies Coincidence of Interests Reaching Tipping Point
  63. 63. Some tricks
  64. 64. Start from building single user utility “It might seem odd that systems designed to leverage interactions between people should have single person utility. The first users of delicious were barely aware of and rarely used its social aspects. They just wanted to store their bookmarks in the cloud instead of in their browser. And they liked the tag based classification system. And they liked being able to use their links from any device. That was the single person utility delicious was built on.” Fred Wilson (
  65. 65. Add mutual value “Users hate spamming friends. It was all fine to begin with when only a few services required them to send out invites but as every new service asks for an invite to be sent out, users get more discerning. Dropbox had a brilliant way around this by incentivizing not only the user but also the invitee when he signs up.” Sangeet Paul Choudary (
  66. 66. Spillover (across clusters) Sangeet Paul Choudary ( “The networks with the fastest growth are the ones that freely allow spillover. AirBnB, unlike Uber and OpenTable, has tremendous potential for spillover. The fact that the use case is travel makes such spillover organic to the network. The host and traveler will most likely be part of different city networks. Such cross-cluster interaction allows growth to occur without having to be confined within geographical boundaries.”
  67. 67. Though tricks may work, most of growth problem are contextual: there’s no one size fits all recipe (though best practices count)
  68. 68. The right approach: methodologically focus on identifying value exchanges and motivations Design Thinking & Platform Design
  69. 69. Understand the basic roles in the Platform Consumers Producers Stakeholders (platform) ValueChain
  70. 70. Explore the core value creation relation Consumers Producers Stakeholders (platform) ValueChain
  71. 71. Consider that additional roles may appear Facilitators Curators Information Brokers Enabling actors ValueChain
  72. 72. Identifying Peer Segments and relations between them and with the platform is key Mapping Platform Stakeholder motivations will give you insights on how to overcome chicken/egg problem and other motivation related design challenges
  73. 73. Peer Relations live through channels
  74. 74. peers
  75. 75. Channels must be implemented to facilitate emerging value exchanges. In platforms, currencies such as trust and reputation may be required to facilitate transactions and should be clearly valued.
  76. 76. the Platform Design Canvas (see
  77. 77. Rel. in June 2013 an iteration of the Business Model Canvas (see Key community Feedbacks: - doesn’t show logical value flows - BM Canvas structure not good for non linear business - doesn’t model platform lifecycle - doesn’t help to hack growth
  78. 78. Currently in the works: Plaform & Ecosystem Design Toolkit
  79. 79. Key challenges - merging service design thinking practices with platform thinking - no more a single canvas (but a toolkit) - looking to the different phases - multi-sided by design - focused on value flow visualization Open for contribution (reach out)
  80. 80. 3 Takeouts
  81. 81. Work like a Startup solve gaps and hack growth
  82. 82. Grow like a Platform nurture relations and exchanges
  83. 83. Think like an Ecosystem always disrupt yourself
  84. 84. Thanks! Get in touch and hire me for talks and workshops on Follow me on Twitter @meedabyte workshops & consulting If you enjoyed this don’t forget to like the presentation! …and share on Social Media!
  85. 85. Special Thanks to: Simon Wardley as lots of this is based on his insights Sangeet P. Chaudhary for the exchanges we had on platforms Raffaele Mauro for the inspiration on trends Pictures used (Creative Commons): Thanks Grzegorz Łobiński for the traffic light picture Thanks alphabetta for the cat picture Thanks USFS Region 5 for the butterfly picture Thanks ben britten for the rainforest picture Thanks Andrew Feinberg for Zuckerberg picture
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