Last week, Mirakl participated in the inaugural Platform Economy Summit Europe—a gathering of the most influential platform business innovators to catalyze this revolutionary business model across the continent.
While companies in the US and China have already adopted a platform mindset, their European counterparts are lacking are lagging. Today, seven of the world’s ten most valuable companies are platform businesses; yet not one of them is European. 60% of the ‘Unicorn’ billion-dollar start-ups are platform businesses, and only a small proportion were born in Europe.
It’s a societal revolution
Platforms are not just transforming business. Simon Torrance, Executive Producer of the Summit, explains why they are so important to business and all of modern society:
“Platforms are having an increasing impact on broader socioeconomic issues—on the trade flows between countries, on jobs and the nature of employment, and on the use of personal data. So, the Platform Economy Summit brings together for the first time over 300 senior corporate leaders from across multiple sectors, with entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, and the world’s leading experts to fully explore the strategic opportunities and threats from the platform phenomenon… In my mind, it’s time for a business revolution.”
Collectively, platform economies are raising the stakes against large global players, many of which have already transitioned into and succeeded with platform models.
Adrien Nussenbaum. CEO, Mirakl Inc; Geoffrey Parker. Author, Platform Revolution & Professor, Dartmouth & MIT; Terry von Bibra, General Manager Europe, Alibaba Group; Marc Berg, CEO, Intelligent Apps; Markus Pertlwieser, Chief Digital Officer, Deutsche Bank
5 Key Takeaways From The Summit
Missed the event? Here are five key takeaways from Mirakl’s session and others to help you get up to speed:
1. "Speed to market and high growth are key for a platform's success.”
I raised this insight with Terry von Bibra of Alibaba, who observed that platforms bring marketing value to scale—they perform better when targeting customers, identifying their needs, communicating with them, and offering the right product or service.
2. Marketplaces are accessible to traditional companies because it’s what their customers want.
Markus Pertlwieser of Deutsche Bank observed that banks’ transitions to platforms are a result of customers’ desire for a single access point to all of their financial services. Since the financial crisis, banks must focus on efficiency, and platforms will help them accomplish this. “The key to drive such a change in a big organization is that mindset,” he says.
3. Accelerating the platform revolution starts with investments in partnerships.
Alibaba’s culture involves working with partners, with whom they’ve already invested a great deal, to enable them instead of having a traditionally closed business ecosystem. Deutsche Banks’ approach is to open their APIs to offer services beyond credit and deposit such as help with income taxes and adjacent, partner-provided services on which they take a commission. ‘How can I learn to work with third-party companies?’ is the right question to ask when considering a platform, says Geoff Parker, professor and author of Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy.
4. Trust in third parties is foundational to platform success.
The opportunity markets, especially those in which Amazon isn’t playing, require more than scalability—they require expertise and third parties who can provide it. In Life Sciences, for example, sellers may require ISO or other types of certifications, so that governance must be a key part of the platform. Third parties must be reliable in servicing customers on any platform, so trustworthiness should be a qualifier in any environment.
5. Maintaining your platform ecosystems revolves around value.
Platforms need to provide enough value to both customers and sellers, such as incentives, insurance, and even certifications. Buyers and sellers leave existing environments for marketplaces for these reasons, and you can maintain new relationships with value. Simple, built-in solutions like supporting more robust presentations of sellers’ products than those in other environments also contribute to success.
Mirakl's Clients Are Leading The Charge
For years, Mirakl has championed a platform-first approach, on the transformative benefits of this new model. We were happy to share our perspective with the Summit audience during our on-stage debate, “Platform business models: What are they, how do they work, and why are they so important?” which I moderated.
I was able to partner with some of the greatest minds in platform, marketplace, and digital economies, including leaders and executives from Dartmouth & MIT, Deutsche Bank, and world-leading platform marketplace retailer, Alibaba Group.
Best in Business B2B Platforms
We were also lucky enough to be joined on stage by three Mirakl customers who are re-defining the B2B landscape, Conrad Electronic, Labviva and Siemens Mobility. When Amazon transformed its business model and launched its open marketplace in 2000, it wasn't long before they took the learnings to turn their attention to conquering the B2B market through Amazon Business. [Check out our blog on ]
And it's only now that traditional manufacturers and distributors are waking up to the power of this powerful platform play. In this panel session we explored the new approaches that are working best in B2B commerce and what learnings can be used from the B2C environment? Uncovering how traditional players and start-ups are competing with Amazon and differentiating from the competition.
We heard how Siemens Mobility are transforming the railway industry, providing a one-stop shop for all equipment needs.
For Conrad, two years ago they saw that traditional retail is dying, and they needed to transform their offering in order to find new ways to engage with their customers. Their answer was the build a highly innovative B2B Marketplace Platform.
And finally for Labviva, a new digital marketplace for life sciences, who launched 6 months ago driven by Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning to quickly index products from suppliers. They've built an index of 1 million SKUs. These SKUs are enriched with deep, high quality product information to ensure a frictionless buying experience for their customers.
Florian Bressand - COO, Mirakl; Laure Claire Reillier - Platform expert, Author and Co-Founder, Launchworks & Co; Ales Drabek - Chief Digital & Disruption Officer, Conrad Electronic; Siamak Baharloo - CEO, Labviva; Joachim Leistner-Weisgerber - Commercial Head of Spare Parts Rolling Stock, Siemens Mobility GmbH
The Future is Now
When we founded Mirakl we aspired to establish marketplaces as a foundation for retailers, manufacturers, and distributors as they evolve to become platform operators. But launching a marketplace is only the beginning. As product and service economies intersect, driven by advancements in technology and data-driven insights, we envision the businesses that will thrive in this new commerce climate will be those on a journey towards a deeper transformation of both B2B and B2C models. This is the start of a broader ecosystem—a new opportunity for companies to become a more meaningful part of their customers’ lives.
Written by Adrien Nussenbaum
Adrien is co-founder and U.S. CEO of Mirakl, the global leader in online marketplace solutions. Since graduating from HEC Paris in 2001, Adrien's career has been focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and disruption. His background in corporate finance and management consulting has allowed him to support top Fortune 1000 companies in their strategic growth and transformation initiatives, including creating and leading FNAC's marketplace from 2008 to 2011. A serial digital entrepreneur, Adrien has always been driven by the desire to invent tomorrow's economy: All Instant, a NY based Instant Messaging platform sold in 2003 and SplitGames an online video games marketplace sold to FNAC in 2008. Along with co-founder Philippe Corrot, Adrien has built and led winning teams across the globe, created hundred of jobs, and generated billions in sales for customers. Outside of the office, Adrien enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters exploring their new home town of Cambridge, MA. But don't think you'll catch him trading Bouillabaisse for New England clam chowder any time soon.