A platform, in general, can be defined as a hardware or software architecture that acts as a basic structure upon which applications, processes, and technologies are developed and run to enable business or work outcomes. A platform can also host an application or a service. Typically, a software platform supports many programming languages, engines, and web services and is also represented as a framework.
What does a platform do?
When it comes to businesses, a platform includes software with a surrounding ecosystem of resources that helps grow businesses to deliver a seamless customer experience with the applications and services hosted on them. As a business grows, these platforms should support new applications, tools, third-party apps, etc.
Some common features of a platform
Here are some must-have features of a cloud-based platform:
- Content management: Every digital platform must have a user-friendly content management system (CMS) to develop and upload content based on the business type.
- Social networking: The digital platforms should connect employees with various social platforms to interact and engage in improving the business or the company’s visibility.
- Seamless Integration: The platform should seamlessly integrate with various applications and tools and be flexible and customizable with third-party integrations as businesses continue to expand.
- Ability to embed analytics: The data analytics truly measures the performance by showing what content the end-users are responding to, thus sharing insights and improving the business as a whole.
Different types of platforms for businesses
Businesses use different types of platforms to meet the various business requirements.
- Technology platforms: Include an environment for building and running various applications, systems, and other related processes. They represent building blocks or backbone services that are re-used in a large number of products that run either their creators’ own businesses, or they’re made available for sale to other companies. Examples: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Twilio, Google Cloud Platform.
- Data harvesting platforms: Data platforms perform an automated collection of data from various online sources such as websites, databases, etc. The data is aggregated and sold to companies for sales and marketing purposes. Examples: Waze, Open Signal.
- Social networking platforms: A social networking platform creates an online space where users can connect, network, interact, exchange data, and more. Examples: Facebook, WeChat, LinkedIn.
- Marketplace platforms: These are two-sided platforms that connect demand and supply and enable seamless transactions between two parties. Examples: eBay, Amazon Marketplace, AirBnB, Upwork.
- Utility Platforms: Utility platforms that attract users by offering a free service in exchange for commissions on resulting sales, or data that the user agrees to share. Examples: Google Search, Kayak.
- On-demand service platforms: Platform delivers services to end-users enabled by a network of independent service providers. Examples: Uber, Ola.
- Computing platforms: Computing platforms establish an environment to execute and run applications. Examples: Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows.
- Content crowdsourcing platforms: Collect data and content from users, including blogs, video posts, reviews, ratings, then facilitate the sharing of that content among a wider user base. Examples: Youtube, TripAdvisor.
- Content distribution network platforms: Store and deliver content to the targeted audience to grow their businesses. Examples: Google Adsense, Smaato, Outbrain.
- What is the major difference between an application and a platform?
An application is computer software designed to perform particular tasks based on the end-user needs. A platform, on the other hand, consists of hardware and software working together in an ecosystem of multiple applications and services which may be connected to a single data source or communication channel.