Promoting a “Digital Technology Platform” Is Misleading and A Mistake
by Betsy Burton
Every once and a while, I read or hear an industry analyst or technology provider talk about a “Digital Technology Platform” or a “Digital Business Technology Platform” and, I’ll admit, it makes me a little crazy. Based on conversations with hundreds of end-user and technology providers, the addition of the word “technology” is both misleading and a mistake.
In this blog, I will discuss what is needed to support digital business, and why organizations should not refer to it as a “technology” platform, and why this is misleading for end-users and a mistake for technology providers.
A Digital Business Platform Is About Business—Enabled by Technology
Digital business refers to a business model or models that are specifically designed to enable organizations to proactively reach, serve, and support their customers and partners from their contextual perspective (i.e. their personal, physical, and virtual context).
What sets a digital business apart is that it is the introduction of new business models that start with the customer/partner context, first and foremost. Digital businesses are enabled by new business processes, information, and technologies, but it is not just about technology (to learn what digital business is not, see my research Debunking 5 Common Myths about Digital Business).
Digital business platforms and applications are technologies and solutions, respectively, that can help organizations automate the coordination of goal-directed work and support interactions between people, software, and machines. However, this ONLY works if your organization has already figured out what goal-directed work you are trying to get done, and your organization has made changes to the business, people, processes, etc. to support this work.
Digital Technology Platform Is Misleading To End-Users
Promoting a digital technology platform is misleading to end-user organizations because it gives them the impression that they can just buy some technology and…
they are magically digitally transformed. Organizations cannot just buy digital business.
It also leads end-users, and particularly IT leaders, to think about technology first rather than the business. I spoke with a CIO for a large European organization that made a significant investment buying, developing, and integrating a “digital technology platform” only to find that their partners inside and outside the organization wouldn’t use it. The issue is, they hadn’t made the investments needed to first change their business model, people, business ecosystem, and relationships. As a result, they just wasted their money.
Digital Technology Platform Is a Mistake For Tech Providers
As mentioned above, digital business is about new business models, processes, etc., which means technology providers that focus on the technology platform are missing the opportunity to work with their customers more closely and provide additional services, such as business consulting, change management, business model design, and development. This can mean a significant lost revenue opportunity.
The other side of this mistake is that your customers that focus on the technology first and foremost will struggle, and many will fail, resulting in unhappy customers that feel like they wasted their investments. And as any tech provider knows, an unhappy customer is not likely to be buying more from you.
For the sake of your end-user customers and your own business, technology providers should promote Digital Business, Digital Business Platforms, and Digital Business Applications—not Digital Technology Platforms.
End-user organizations seeking to transform their business to support digital business should be wary of vendors, pundits, or media that are promoting digital technology platforms. They very well may not understand the business model, people, process, and information changes that need to be addressed before the technology. And, even if they do understand, they likely don’t have the services or capabilities to help address these challenges.