Platforms run computers, smartphones, and stream your video from the cloud. And they’ll run your business processes too. Here’s how.

By Hank Shaw, Xerox contributor

In a competitive environment that prizes quality, cost, efficiency and effectiveness, the engine behind trends is usually this: bulletproof business logic.

“[Platforms] may not be what every single customer wants today. But it’s what more and more of them will demand in the future.” -- Rick Dastin, chief development engineer for Xerox Services

“[Platforms] may not be what every single customer wants today. But it’s what more and more of them will demand in the future.” — Rick Dastin, chief development engineer for Xerox Services

Case in point–the growing focus on standardized, state-of-the-art technology platforms in the world of services.

“Platforms enable innovation, efficiency, automation and simplicity. They are easier to scale. They provide the opportunity for real differentiation. And the benefits pay off for everyone,” says Rick Dastin, the chief development engineer for Xerox Services who’s a passionate advocate of the concept of platform standardization.

“It may not be what every single customer wants today. But it’s what more and more of them will demand in the future. It just makes good sense from a business point of view.”

Platforms in Profile

According to Techopedia.com, a platform is “a group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed.”

A PC and an operating system form a computing platform. So is a mobile phone running Windows, iOS or Android. Fast-growing cloud services like Salesforce.com or Netflix also represent platforms.

In services, however, technology platforms rarely stand alone. Instead, they are an integral part of a multifaceted offering that typically includes carefully honed business processes and highly skilled professionals.

But the basic idea behind a platform—standardizing hardware and software to make it reusable—still applies. So does the ability to generate a powerful set of benefits that come from scale.

The Holy Grail of Scale

Think about it from the provider’s perspective.

With standardized platforms, you can invest more in innovation, since each new idea will serve more customers. You can deliver services that are more robust, more reliable, and easier to implement and support, since they’re riding within proven platforms.

You also have the opportunity to create more meaningful differentiation in the marketplace. And when you lower the internal cost of a service through standardization, you can share the savings with your customers, too, providing more competitive pricing in the marketplace with wider adoption.

Innovation. Reliability. Simplicity. Plus the well-known economies of scale. What’s not to like with that big picture?

Living Proof of the Power of Platforms

Rick is a big believer in a platform strategy because he’s seen it work for his company and its customers.

Before he took on his current role, he spent more than 30 years at Xerox working to develop document management technology. And he was heavily involved in the effort to turn isolated products into families based on common software platforms.

“We took product capabilities and centralized them in software platforms that supported a wide variety of products. We cut our spending on software in half, produced four times as many products in the same timeframe, and dramatically increased customer delight at the same time.

“The same basic idea works in services. You can develop platforms that help you achieve scale. And when that happens, those platforms keep getting more robust. They keep getting more stable and feature-enhanced. They help you bring in more innovation and differentiation. And they keep providing more value to customers.

“That’s the big nirvana when you get to a platform strategy, staying ahead of the curve ”