Between building for platforms and not just products is also making things for users and not just buyers. Great digital companies turn customers into fans: they design and create products for users and not just buyers. Making things for buyers is an industrial age business model – they buy and they are gone. Today, products must have full-cycle value where the users are engaged at both pre- and post-purchases. Indeed, you are selling living experiences and not just things. Yes, you want the products to be part of the lifestyles of the users for you to have success. WeChat is a good example: it is both a platform and a full-cycle product with users who depend on it to run their lives.
Any digital product that does not have the duality element will struggle especially in consumer market: you need the product and the platform as one to make progress these days. You need to build platforms because they have the elasticity to evolve with your business logic. Products are static and fade quickly as markets change. Platforms can grow without bounds, anchoring new opportunities on top. The business logic of integration, process and decision making are best handled on platforms over products in the internet space. With platforms, you have CUSTOMERS; products deliver consumers.
Largely, the shift to platform-full-cycle product is anchored on network effect – the positive continuum which is based on the construct that the more users you have in an ecosystem, the better is the value to everyone. Digital companies like Facebook begin without thinking of sales. They simply focus on delivering the best possible experiences to customers. The goal is to help to reduce the frictions in the lives of customers. They spend money for years, earning no revenue, as they work hard to ensure users like and use their products.
You can associate the funding mechanism from venture capitalists as part of the catalyst for this. Non-digital firms typically begin lives looking for how to immediately get users to buy and spend money. The reason is that they have no platform to nurture. So, the only thing they gain is the sale that happens. The experience is immaterial: it is buy that drives the strategy.
As you build your business, hiring marketing, advertising and all the elements required to run firms, you must architect a roadmap on how that product must be structured for users and not buyers.