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Company Building in the Age of the Platform: 8 Lessons From Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Posted: 12/12/11 03:05 PM ET

We have entered a new age -- the Age of the Platform. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (a.k.a. the 'Gang of Four') have done nothing less than pioneer a fundamentally new way of doing business. By engaging users, consumers, and partners in entirely new ways -- and by continually reinventing themselves -- they influence billions of humans on the planet, every minute of every day. That's the power of the platform.

So, how can you build a platform for your business? Here are some tips:

Defining The Terms: Just What Is a Platform, Anyway?
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Before answering that lofty question, let's get two key terms straight. The word platform has become a buzzword, often misused by pundits, thought leaders and media types. Planks are integrated features, services, or offerings of a business. A platform consists of a series of integrated planks. For instance, the iPad isn't a platform; it's merely one plank in Apple's platform -- and a really profitable one. The Google platform consists of Gmail, Maps, search, Docs, YouTube and a bevy of other planks.

In the age of the platform, every business stands to benefit from developing its own
platform, planks, and ecosystem of users, customers, partners and communities.

(Pictured above: Sundar Pichai, Google's VP for Product Management, presents in San Francisco, Dec. 7th, 2010)
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