THE THREE LEVELS OF A PLATFORM MODEL
In a few words, in traditional models we talk about “Value Chain.” It is a good term for when there is linearity: we begin with some inputs, then we produce and the product is distributed, promoted, and sold to give place to the post-sale service. In this framework, we can find two types of integrations: vertical or horizontal.
In the current business context, we think more about platform-based business models, in which there is no linearity in the value chain and from where a new type of integration arises, which we called: concentric.
The platform-based business model can be represented in three levels defined by three lines: Core line, Integration line, and Exchange line.
On the Core line, we can find Level I, which constitutes the foundation for building and supporting the model. It has all the functionalities and services that will be used by the integrated applications, regardless of the need that they fulfill on the end customer. On the Integration line, we can find Level II, where the interaction between supply (solutions) and demand (banks) is processed, where market requirements and capabilities are identified; and the integration of the different solutions to the core is executed. On the Exchange line (Level III), we can find the solutions that reach the end customer and fulfill their specific wants, expectations, and needs.
Diagram 1: Platform-Based Business
Each level has its own features, components, and purpose. Below, there is detailed information on each one of them.
Level I: Core
It constitutes the foundation on which it is possible to build products or services to fulfill the needs of end users and/or customers. The Core is an extensible system that provides functionalities shared by the different applications that interoperate with it and the integration interface needed for them to incorporate to the aforementioned.
The three main features that Level I (Core) must have are:
Every Core that works as a foundation in a platform model must be scalable, secure, and extensible.
Scalable implies being able to work as a foundation on which many “floors” can be built. In the case of Core Banking, it implies that they must be able to process millions of daily transactions without interruptions, among other things.
Security means many things, and it is related to the security of the information that is managed, with the tranquility that all information will be processed in timely manner, ensuring the integrity and consistency of what is being processed.
Extensible implies that the Core must, necessarily, be able to integrate with other systems. In the case of Core Banking, it implies having an API Banking that will make this integration process easier.
Key components are:
API Banking: The application programming interface is key in every Core, as it makes it possible to communicate between this one and the integrated systems.
DevOps: This engineering practice involves a unifying vision of the development and the operation. Its purpose is to achieve short cycles of development with frequent implementations and products that match the requirements. Among other things, it implies having tools for each stage of the development and operation cycle; tools that work in an integrated way, automating and facilitating the whole process.
Systems: The platform must offer a series of functionalities that are used by the different applications that get integrated to the aforementioned platform. In general, we are talking about large and complex systems, which are needed for those organizations that develop applications for the end user, but which are not their focus. For instance, if an organization that develops a digital onboarding application had to develop every process that is needed on the Core level, it would be exposed to costs, timing, and risks that would probably make the entrepreneurship impossible.
Knowledge: The Core not only contains systems; it also embeds “knowledge” in its processes. By offering this knowledge to the companies that integrate through their applications, it offers the possibility for each of them to specialize where their strength lies. For instance, the developer of an application could put every effort into bettering the user experience through near, convenient, and efficient solutions, without having to know every detail of the vertical in which it works. This is part of the value delivered from the platform models.
The purpose of Level I is to achieve: “Strength integration.”
The Core represents the foundation, the place on which other solutions can be built, adding value with maximum stability.
Level II: Integration
Level II is where the integration takes place. It is the place where supply and demand come together. In the case of B2B (Business to Business), we refer to the demand of companies with the supply of companies that develop solutions. Here, it is important not to mistake intermediation with integration; in the case of banks, the solutions that a company buys are integrated to the banking platform that the bank uses. On the other hand, there is a direct interaction between supply and demand. In the case of Bantotal, it is the developer (supply) who presents the solution to the bank (demand) and who installs it.
The three main features of Level II (Integration) are:
The existence of “Coopetition” implies a paradigm shift. In traditional business models, there are players that are competitors and others that are collaborators. However, in the new business context, the same player can be a competitor and a collaborator at the same time.
In a revolutionary world in which changes are increasing in speed, the number of solutions available is even higher, and the frequency of updates is increasing, “Specialization” becomes particularly important. We cannot pretend that only one supplier will offer all the solutions needed. The other face of specialization is collaboration, and the Core as a platform is the foundation that makes this integration easier.
The third main feature is “Frictionless”; Level II must make easier the interaction between the two sides of the market —supply and demand—.
Key components are:
Supply: Organizations that develop solutions with the potential of contributing to fulfill a need, want, or expectation of the customer of the bank.
Demand: Financial Institutions that have to provide their customers with convenient, near, and efficient solutions.
The purpose of Level II is to maximize the: “Interaction.” Every platform-based model must maximize the direct interaction between offer and demand. This interaction is the one that creates value for the end customer and generates crossed externalities. If interaction is increased, there will be a higher degree of fulfillment of the end customers’ needs, creating deeper, wider, and long-lasting
relationships. If the aforementioned happens, there will be more benefits for the parties that interact and the supplier of the platform. In other words, the platform-based business model implies adding value by facilitating the interaction between two different types of players — in this case, we are talking about Banks and Developers.
Level III: Exchange
Level III is where the value exchange with the end customer happens.
The three features highlighted on Level III (Exchange) are:
Abundance of solutions: The interaction generated between Developers and the institutions makes it possible to offer different solutions, one for each need. The technological disruption has allowed to multiply the number of moments in people’s lives in which, for instance, a Financial Institution can participate and add value.
High-speed updates: The high degree of specialization, the “agile” frameworks, and the ease of integration allow for an increase in the frequency of application updates.
High degree of customization: there is a tendency for each application to provide an increased number of customization options.
Key elements are: convenient, near, and efficient solutions.
The current business context implies a change in the existing way to create relationships between the institutions and their customers. The number of moments in people’s lives in which the institution is capable of adding value have multiplied. This means that the Bank can add value at any given moment in someone’s life that ends in a monetary transaction. We call this new context: “Life Banking”
Solutions must have three features:
Convenience: we are talking about simple, complete, and precise solutions that reduce as much as possible the customer’s physical and mental effort.
Proximity: the Bank is the one who approaches the customers, allowing them to operate from their location, and who gathers and analyses the data uncovered by the needs, wants, and expectations in order to improve the offers.
Efficiency: service times and costs must be reduced, automating everything that
can be automated.
The purpose of Level III is: “User experience.” It is important to design the user experience through the whole process (customer journey), from the moment they find out that the solution exists until they start using it over time.
Every touchpoint (points of interaction that involve a specific human need in a given time and place) must be considered and planned.
Every plan must include a current situation state, a desired situation state, an action plan to go from the starting point to the ending point, and a set of KPIs (Key Performance Index) that allow us to identify if we are going in the right direction or if there are detours that must be corrected. In short, it is key to identify the customer journey and define how we want our user experience to be in each stage of the journey, adjusting our proposals to achieve those goals.
Digital mindset and organizational agility
The thought scheme and the organizational approach are transversal elements to the model. The first one, which we call Digital Mindset, is related to a way of understanding the current reality and a set of skills and competencies developed from beliefs, which allow to have an appropriate behavior to exploit the context’s potential. The second one, Organizational Agility, refers to a work approach based on interactive and incremental processes, which allows the reception of feedback, ensuring early and continuous delivery of solutions that fulfill the market’s needs and expectations in a revolutionary environment.
Strategic Planning Manager at Bantotal