Marketplaces. Hubs. Ecosystems. Whatever you call them, “platforms” are the future. A recent TechCrunch article encouraged innovators to “think bigger than products and business models” – to envision platforms that become the fuel cell of bigger market shifts, driving shared wins across stakeholders.
Platform thinking has driven us from day one. Our vision grew from believing some form of video-centric “platformization” had to happen. Seeing UGC, mobile, and even first-gen disruptors like YouTube challenge the command-and-control models of legacy content broadcasters made it clear: a platform enabling wins across the ecosystem would catalyze new innovation and economic value. AerNow is our answer.
Citing Harvard Business Review’s manifesto on future-shaping business models, platforms must do some core things to deliver disruptive results:
outperform the status quo from the customer’s perspective
violate traditional constraints
build brand presence before markets have been clearly defined
enable adaptation as conditions change
If you’ve been following us you already know those four points (and one more I’ll share below) are practically our mission statement. Here’s what they mean to us.
Outperform the status quo from the customer’s perspective.
Candidly, this was the low-hanging fruit. The limitations of current video hosting options make it easy to “make it better.”
But “outperforming” doesn’t lead to “platform.” Platform thinking means looking across a wide landscape of status quos and identifying a bigger value prop than any one can deliver on its own.
AerNow looks across the landscape at the many value propositions in it. On a platform, all have something to gain. For us, that “all” includes content creators, producers, and innovators as well as people shaping new directions with IoT and data. experience creators, for people looking at niches of tech innovation and above all for people wanting to immerse themselves more fully in the multi-level experiences “video” will bring together as tech evolves.
This vision can’t be served with “serving video” as its core. That’s a fragile foundation. Imagining the future of visual data and how it’s captured, managed, shared, enhanced, monetized, and even disrupted: that’s where our platform vision begins.
Violate traditional constraints.
The constraints around video sharing – and more importantly, around the way viewers experience what video is today – offers plenty of room for improvement.
Even today, “video” acts pretty much like it’s acted like for years. But all around it: an explosion of change. Snapchat attracts some 100M (and counting) daily users. Names like Periscope and Meerkat (remember Meerkat? From back in 2015?) rise seemingly out of nowhere and often fade back out as audiences move to the next trend. And innovation across AR, VR, IoT, biometrics, sentiment analysis and more foreshadows the ongoing trends that will also anchor themselves to platforms or fade away.
Meanwhile, existing platforms know they need video. Our mobile devices, even our Facebook and Twitter feeds: all of these are rising as video push and stream platforms. Video is at the edge of these platforms. What will be at the edge when video is core? The constraints of existing platforms both define and validate the space AerNow will own.
Build brand presence before markets have been clearly defined.
This mirrors the fourth point:
Enable adaptation as conditions change.
“Predicting the future” is the big gamble platforms take: a leap of faith into a reality that doesn’t exist yet, and a commitment to creating that reality. What the Harvard article didn’t explore is how platform design can be future-looking while still staying flexible enough to thrive in a variety of possible futures.
The article says platform creators have to “learn and react fast.” Take this up a notch. Platforms have to do more than “enable” adaptation. They have to anticipate it and stay poised to evolve continually in the most probable directions. We see that as an ongoing process that balances core and edge, driven by on core assumptions about value and impact yet somewhat agnostic about the path that creates it.
Take Slack, launched to facilitate internal business communication and now a bot-enhanced teamwork tool spanning companies, interest groups, social communities and more. What a great example of serving a vision – to connect people and make them more productive – by deepening the foundation while moving quickly at the edge.
Our platform is built on a few core assumptions: things as fundamental as the way we see data, beliefs about emerging networks and transmission protocols, even shifts in how people spend leisure time. Our other big assumption is the certainty of change – even chaos – as new tech capabilities and standards emerge.
As the Harvard article wisely says:
“To be clear, succeeding at transitional business platforms does not require predicting the future. Instead, a great transitional model is based on an accurate directional read of the future, providing flexibility and optionality as the future unfolds.”
This leads to that fifth point I mentioned.
Build power that lets other innovators win.
That’s the most important point.
With AerNow we’re building a platform that will increasingly make room for other dreamers to create and build business value with their own vision and content. For creators, it will become a digital foundation for the value they exchange with audiences in forward-looking, win-win ways.
For developers and innovators in video, IoT, and the emerging (and augmented) media landscape, it will provide an onramp for blending capabilities with other providers. We’ll help them connect quickly with relevant audiences, partners and distribution amplifiers.
For businesses and brands, it will be deliver ever-better experiences without having to build (and staff, and support, and eventually re-create) them in-house.
The challenge, of course, is to remain agile and open: not to herd the sacred cows that tie today’s media companies to outdated infrastructure and business models. Easy to say, but again: that’s another strength of platform thinking. Build the right platform and those who participate in it will continually push the edge, helping the entire community prove the value of emerging innovation that may, with time, move closer to the core.
Above all it will be about creating value in a fast-changing future with agility and freedom (from legacy infrastructure, the risk of wrong bets, and siloization from other future-builders) than non-platform approaches can provide.
That’s what we’re building. You’ll see the first look soon.
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