What is a Platform and Why Build One?

Written by: equipmentfx

August 8, 2021

Platform fundamentals for equipment OEM’s & dealers

What is a “Platform”?

Imagine a future where all employees, customers and any permissioned user had access to all available, relevant information at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen so they could review, save, share and generally customize for their own future use. And they could have access to this information in a few seconds, not minutes. And no phone call to gain access to the information, so the process is touched again, by someone else, taking extra time and costing extra money. And costing customer or employee happiness in the process.

Imagine that today a system like this can be built quickly, efficiently, and out-perform any current legacy business system. This system is faster, safer, more reliable, scales as quick as you want and can be built in a collaborative environment with easy upgrades based on the great ideas that will come.

Today, you can build a platform yourself, or share a common platform between OEM and dealers, or dealer to dealer, building something unique they all can use, exactly as any user wants.

Organize Everything

A platform is a modern way of organizing information so everyone that wants information has it instantly. Every user by permission level has access customized to their needs, gets notified of something new or updated, and is seen and used by common users as something to help them, not something to fear. This platform is something they have input on. Users all help to design the system. A platform can integrate with your legacy system to take the current data and display it differently, more usefully, and give insight into performance metrics using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Data can be displayed instantly, with noticeable trends, reports and critical KPI’s that take you seconds to review and make decisions instead of hours, printed documents and other dated methods.

In short, a true “platform” is a visionary way of taking your company to the next level in terms of operational, financial and customer service processes and results. Now is the time to embrace modern, attainable digital solutions for your OEM, dealer or financial services company.

Three Main Reasons for a Platform

A well designed platform is generally designed for speed and flexibility to produce new experiences for users, while the core of the platform and technology is designed for stability, re-use and customization aspects per user that are practically endless. Integration with external systems becomes an easy part of the process; custom API’s can be built from one system to the next quickly and easily.

General opportunities for improvement in a wider sense, between OEM’s, dealers, financial service and leasing companies and vendor partners, generally fall into three basic categories:

• Ease of evolution
• Reduced time to implement changes
• Uniformity of tools and experiences

Ease of Evolution

Generally speaking, needs of users change over time. Job requirements change, therefore permission and access requirements change. Vendor partners have great ideas to make doing business with your company easier. Internal employees will have great ideas.

The sales staff will have limitless ideas to make their job easier, ideas like tapping a screen to search for information, attach, share, track opens and follow up with the information shared as an automatically appended appointment in their calendar.

Or technicians building their own custom library, organizing it and prioritizing it by the makes, models and types of repairs they are most likely to perform. Simple, practical time saving ways to improve their jobs, and the customer experience.

In the end, successful platforms are always a collaborative effort between multiple users of the system. The common elements are open discussion, ideas, accurate work scopes and requirements, and fast implementation of new ideas. This in turn builds momentum for the entire initiative.

Reduced Time to Implement Changes

The business requirements and use cases are very fluid and ever changing. Each use case has its own set of specific requirements, from permissions, customizable characteristics for each type of account profile, unique features to build document libraries, and lots of other options.

Platforms are built with unique components and interchangeable parts that are easily added on to, or combined in a unique way to build a unique feature for many users. Instead of waiting for a custom solution to your legacy or ERP system, you can design custom solutions like reports, document libraries, sharing features, in-platform text messaging or any combination of ideas or dreams you have.

Your company can respond to changes or requests immediately, often in hours, not waiting for a system upgrade or customer care rep to contact you and discuss your idea, only to hear they might consider it for the upcoming new version release

Uniformity of Tools and Experience

A well designed platform, provided the foundation is strong, will allow you to build a suite of tools and experiences that are customized to you and develop a uniform experience among all users. The goal is to have a unified developer and user experience, and this can take some time until the use cases are understood, challenges are clear, and outcomes are agreed upon for the product or process.

Depending on the number of user types, collaboration on any level isn’t a “one meeting” event. But once the product or improvement is agreed upon, it can generally be implemented immediately.

Resources

If you haven’t heard of Sangeet Paul Chodary, I strongly recommending reading his two books, “Platform Revolution” and “Platform Scale”. I found these books to be among the best recent reads I have, and should be required reading for every CEO, CIO, COO and other senior managers looking to get to the next level of sales, efficiency and customer experience.

About EquipmentFX Services

Over the years, the services we offer have evolved to meet each clients unique needs. We like to lead with our proprietary A3 assessment to really understand the gaps and opportunities. From there we can discuss follow on services we customize together.

The number one question we get after assessments are “Can you just do this stuff for us”, followed by “we have marketing people, how can we make them and our processes more efficient”. And sometimes we simply deliver the road map and provide support as-needed.

At the end of any engagement, you will have a formal framework and internal audit process to improve your program or build a program from scratch to create more new customers, and to sell more to existing ones.

To find out more about the EquipmentFX A3 assessment, digital marketing or technology consulting services, please contact us.

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