The big buzzword in publishing right now is the “platform.” If you are an author and you don’t have a robust platform, publishers won’t even think of publishing your book, no matter how well written it is, unless you have a robust platform. An author’s platform means she has prestigious speaking gigs, teaches seminars, has extensive media experience, writes guest blogs at one or more well-known websites, maybe hosts a radio show or has a syndicated column, has an active and dynamic online following via social media, an interesting website and newsletter, and, well, you get the picture.
All of these so-called planks make up her platform, from which she can become a self-generating publicity monster and do all the publisher’s selling work for them. (It kind of makes the publisher’s job a no-brainer, if you ask me.)
But the concept of a platform in business is more nuanced and complex. In business, a powerful platform enables a company to generate new customers, products, and services. It attracts mutually beneficial partnerships. A dynamic platform encourages innovation and has the ability to transform whole industries and change consumer behavior. It enables companies to be so resilient that they can withstand seismic shifts in the market and thrive on — or even invite — uncertainty.
Four companies that have defined the modern-day business platform — and set an incredibly high bar that few others can easily achieve — are Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, also known as the Gang of Four.
In a smart, fast-paced, and ambitious new business book, The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business (Motion Publishing), technology expert Phil Simon shows how these four companies have pioneered an entirely new business model that’s based on the platform — one that businesses large and small should adopt if they want to survive and grow in the years ahead.
The platforms of the Gang of Four go far beyond mere websites with a few interesting services tied in. Because of how these companies leverage their powerful, ever-evolving platforms, they now influence everyone on the planet.
These companies don’t just attract customers. They curate many passionate users and turn them into partners who also benefit from the relationship, expand the brand, and pay back profits. Think of Apple’s app developers, for example, or Amazon’s aStore sellers. They adapt extremely well and quickly to change, and embrace frequent, intelligent risk-taking and experimentation. Think of how Google expanded its brand from a smart search engine with profitable ads into Gmail, Maps, Docs, Voice, and YouTube, to name but a few.