The Risk of Not Hiring Platform Professionals

Consider the downside of not having the right platform talent

As the platform economy has grown in size and scale, the risk of NOT hiring platform professionals has grown.  Digital platforms will likely mediate $60 trillion in economic value by 2025 according to one estimate by McKinsey.  A savvy platform professional will be able to help a company grow and build competitive advantage in ways that are likely to be challenging, if not missed completely, by non-platform professionals.   

A platform professional will be able to apply platform logic to create network effects that drive growth and scale.  They are likely to think about pricing differently.  They are also likely to think about ecosystem engagement and governance in very different ways.  These and other benefits will be lost if a company selects someone without this specialized knowledge and experience. 

Director of Loyalty

Let’s take a job search that is currently active.  A rapidly growing medium-sized cosmetics company with a global presence recently posted a position for Director of Loyalty.   The company is looking for a person who can connect consumers and its team of beauty specialists together to drive key outcomes for its growing ecosystem.  The person is expected to leverage technology and gamification, to support the creation of “transformational experiences that feel like magic to the user while deepening our brand connection and strengthening advocacy among both user groups.” Working with the existing team of program managers, the Director of Loyalty will develop best practices within the company’s direct markets and work with the regional teams to roll-out key learnings globally.   Here is some more specific requirement for the position:

·        With a team of dedicated loyalty program managers, you will craft user experiences that drive brand equity, encourage community sharing, and ultimately drive increased utilization.

·        [You] will translate the desired customer experience for the program into business requirements and partner with digital, technology, and analytics teams to implement”

·        [You] will leverage data and analytics to drive business insights across program innovation, user experience, campaigns, and operational effectiveness; implementing a continuous test and learn approach

·        [You will have] a deep background in platform development and a proven history with dev team collaboration.

Plotting the Role Requirements

If we plot this role against the 6 core platform role types I discussed in a previous post, the role looks something like this: 

As the radar chart shows, the role has strong requirements around platform ecosystem management, platform product management, and platform data management.  There is an expectation that the person taking the position will be able to work with the platform engineering team but software development, API integrations, and other elements of the company’s tech stack is not a core responsibility.  The role is less concerned with overall platform strategy or platform privacy & compliance. 

It is clear from the job position that the role would benefit significantly not only from a general understanding of platforms but an understanding of emerging experience platforms.  Experience platforms combine the power of platform business models with the recognition that experience serves as the critical link between a company and its customers in an increasingly distractible and time-starved world. For more on experience platforms, see this short clip from a webinar that I did last month with Joe Pine: Loyalty Programs Should Become Experience Planforms.

Platform Professional vs. Non-Platform Professional

A platform professional would very likely make different decisions than a non-platform professional.  The platform professional should be able to apply platform principles to the design, pricing and governance solutions crafted for the loyalty program.  They should have a better understanding of what design and pricing choices would drive positive network effects.  They should be able to develop guidelines, policies & procedures that spell out the required behavior of ecosystem participants contributing to the platform.  

Armed with platform knowledge and experience they should be able to hit the ground running with the skills and ability to translate platform logic to achieve achieve the “transformational experiences that feel like magic” the company seeks. 

By contrast, non-platform professional could take more time to bring the results the company seeks, if at all.  In the best case, the company would need to pay for specialized platform training.  There are now a growing number of platform-specific executive education programs available that either live, live online, prerecorded or some combination of these approaches.  These programs could help provide concepts, cases and other relevant information but would likely require more than one short course.  

A less desirable outcome would be for a non-platform professional be hired for the role but make decisions that did not reflect platform logic.   The company would then likely miss opportunities to create positive self-reinforcing network effects and harness the full benefits of its ecosystem to drive customer engagement and loyalty.  

In short, there are risks to not hiring or creating programs to internally develop platform professionals.  The role of Director for Loyalty discussed here is just one example.  Many companies face the risk of not having the right talent to thrive in a business environment that increasingly favors platform business models.  


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