What’s a Digital Platform?

For several years we have heard more and more often about digital platforms. And especially in recent weeks, due to Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, this phenomenon is having an exponential trend and every day we can hear about the birth of new digital platforms.

But what is a digital platform?

 

In this article I will try to answer these questions in a simple way and without technicalities, so that it is a fluent and comprehensible reading for everyone.

A web page is a web document designed for different browsers, it’s like a page of a book or magazine that is represented by one browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc).

A website is made up of one or more web pages, so you can think at it as a book where the first page (home page) is the guide for the rest of the site, like an “index”.

In other words the website is a set of static contents that can be consulted online and deals with a particular topic.

Who and when?

 

The first website was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, while working at CERN.

“The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.

The first website at CERN – and in the world – was dedicated to the World Wide Web project itself and was hosted on Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer.

In 2013, CERN launched a project to restore this first ever website: info.cern.ch. On 30 April 1993, CERN put the World Wide Web software in the public domain.

Later, CERN made a release available with an open licence, a more sure way to maximise its dissemination.

These actions allowed the web to flourish.”[1]

 “A Web application is a kind of website that gives functionality beyond showing only information, where some user interaction is included such as uploading their information or files, editing a document, filling out a form, or showing statistics of some process, etc.”[2]

If the application is designed to run on mobile devices as well as smartphones and tablets, it’s called Mobile Application or simply App.

 And finally here we are

 

The digital platform it is “a technology-enabled business model that creates value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups.

Most commonly, platforms bring together end users and producers to transact with each other.

They also enable companies to share information to enhance collaboration or the innovation of new products and services.

The platform’s ecosystem connects two or more sides, creating powerful network effects whereby the value increases as more members participate.

Platforms’ development can be accelerated by third parties’ provision of application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable participants to share data to create new services.

Thanks to cloud and other technologies, they can provide resources on an as-a-service basis.

Successful platforms operate under clear governance conditions that protect intellectual property and data ownership, fostering trust among participants.”[3]

Concluding

 

A digital platform is a digital environment which consists of the Web Application, Mobile Applications, the communication between these and other external services and integration between each of the elements that comprise it.

It allows multiple participants to connect it and interact each other, so digital platforms are extremely dynamics and interactive.

There are many types of digital platforms: social platforms (ex. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn), Sales platform (ex. Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba), Media platforms (ex.Spotify), Crowd-sourcing platforms (ex. Uber, BlablaCar, AirBnB), and many others.

Next time I will focus on “Why are we witnessing this explosion of digital platforms?”. Don’t lose it.

 

[1]  The birth of the web, CERN.
[2] Difference between web platform, web pages and apps, Mackaber.
[3] Five Ways to Win with Digital Platforms, Accenture, 2016.