Rakesh Malhotra April 5, 2023
A key component of any platform strategy is to drive ecosystem adoption. The platform ecosystem might include developers within your organization, outside of your organization, or both. Here are three tell-tale signs that your platform resonates and meets the needs of your ecosystem.
When clients ask us to help drive the adoption of their platforms, the first thing we tell them is that developers “vote with their feet.” While you might be able to generate some initial adoption in a top-down manner (i.e., requiring developers to use the platform), this isn’t a durable strategy. The value proposition of the platform must be compelling enough to encourage adoption organically over time. This is why platform teams must treat their service as a product, and their developers as customers who have choices available to them.
Pulse Check: Various metrics can be used to track platform adoption, including developers, apps, utilization, and revenue. When considering these metrics, platform teams need to ask themselves, “How much of this adoption is from developers who had other choices?”
Third-Party Innovation and Extensions
No platform can possibly meet every need of its stakeholders. There will always be gaps in functionality and capabilities. In enterprise organizations, this often leads to the following scenario:
- Developers ask the platform engineering team to add new capabilities.
- The platform team can’t get to the new capabilities in a reasonable timeframe because they are already overbooked, and become a bottleneck.
- Developers get clearance to consider alternatives.
In order to avoid a bottleneck, the platform architecture must support independent extension of non-core capabilities by developers outside of the platform engineering team. This requires not only a degree of extensibility, but also documentation, sample code, tutorials, and technical support. Again, the platform needs to be treated like a product.
Pulse Check: The size and quality of third-party extensions filling functional gaps for a platform is (somewhat ironically) an excellent indicator that it’s meeting the needs of your ecosystem. And as the platform ecosystem matures, community engagement and third parties helping one another extend your platform provides further evidence that you’re hitting the mark.
Scalable Downstream ROI
Having great organic growth and a vibrant platform ecosystem is terrific, but it’s only durable if your ecosystem retains and (ideally) improves ROI as its usage of the platform grows. You may see incredible profits from your platform, but if that value doesn’t make its way downstream to developers, they will find alternatives or limit their usage.
When developers consider the ROI of a platform, cost is an important factor. Platform providers must constantly optimize for operational efficiency as a tactic to lower costs, and pass those savings down through the platform ecosystem. However, cost isn’t the only factor; your target developers may put a higher value on other benefits. Ease of use, performance, security, tooling, accelerated time to market: any of these might be more critical than cost, depending on the situation.
Pulse Check: Validating ROI by ensuring that you capture revenue – but your ecosystem captures more – is a valuable exercise. The bottom line is this: platform providers need to ensure that their customers are realizing the benefits of the platform in a meaningful way. The large-scale cloud providers get this, which is why most of them directly offer tools to help their customers reduce and optimize their spending.
At Nuvalence, we apply a rigorous and proven methodology to help clients evaluate their platform investments and build pragmatic roadmaps to a desired end state. Enabling a thriving platform ecosystem is a key part of this effort.