Products as a Platform (PaaP)

I keep hearing about the latest engineering acronym PaaS, in the sense of “products as a service” (not platform as a service, we’ll get to that later on), which allows customers to purchase a desired result rather than the equipment that delivers that result. This model immediately indicates a company will: 1) pay a fee for the service, 2) not own the intellectual property of what’s being created or interconnected across an infrastructure to support and drive their products and 3) not allow the business to continuously develop their expertise and workforce knowledge to support continuous product engineering and innovation, in support of business growth. According to, PaaS involves multiple players, such as the client, who purchases the service; the manufacturer, who delivers the product and its associated services; and the PaaS platform provider, who handles the infrastructure, including data collection, transmission, storage, security, and analytics. Why so convoluted? Sure, we can all argue PaaS may reduce overhead costs, and alleviate operational strain and so on, but in 2020 — post the COVID era, that point is moot. If your business is not innovating and engineering in-house regardless of the industry vertical you’re in, you may have to ask yourself what your expectations are for longevity and what you think will happen with your seller/ manufacturer and competitors. Keeping your outsourced model may work well for you now, long term? not so much. How long can you continue to leverage a third party as your own and still maintain competitive advantage and profitability? What’s your core differentiation?
Organizations that are in the business of customer centricity and (digital) product experiences, should really look beyond the conventional methods and business models that are out there swirling around, and introspectively evaluate what kind of in-house engineering and productization chops they really have among their talent. Why? Because the ability to own and drive your innovation and product cycles is imperative in maintaining; business longevity, market relevance, brand power, consumer trust and technical scalability through intellectual property (IP) ownership. Your value and power is in your products and the IP ownership and exclusivity of your catalog and customer experience. So, why not focus on creating products that will eventually provide a seamless experience across your digital architecture, and that will give your customers a seamless digital experience of inter-connectivity and intelligent automation that follows and goes where they need it the most? What I mean is, why not focus on digitally transforming your business into an intelligent enterprise vs. relying on buying products and services you ultimately will not be the master of, ever? Additionally, “data is king” in today’s digital world and having the ability to understand your data, triangulate data accuracy and consume the data on-demand is key to your business, especially if you can merge it with product ingenuity. Plug and play should be your motto. Plug your data and leverage it (play it) in to every product and see your digital architecture grow. Doing so will allow you to create and monetize new business models that will aid in creating product expansion and product efficiency >> delivered straight to your customers. You’ll bring the power of digital to your customer’s fingertips! If you don’t control your products across your ecosystem, and don’t understand your data, you’ll always be at the mercy of someone else, and withheld from exploring the art of the impossible. No one should know your business and your customers better than you!
intelligent enterprise operations diagram
Which leads us to the importance of managing your product development and digital architecture as a Products as a Platform (PaaP) model. PaaP should strive to tie everything you reasonably can in to your technology architecture and business models. Keep your product catalog growing and relevant by continuously adding products, enhancements and releases that matter the most to your customers. Keep your customers enthused, engaged and excited to use your products. Create an intelligent enterprise operation that’s centered on strong product development and hard core innovation. Transform your business with a solid digital architecture that your customers can leverage via digital services and add to your features and functions with intelligent automation. Synchronize the customer experience for your business so that accessing your platform integrates with you customer’s business or lifestyle needs. Go where they go, digitally! Lastly, be sure to continue to create products that will incrementally mesh and create vibrant and engaging experiences for your customers externally, while transforming your business internally and giving your organization platform elasticity and broader reach. Focus on automation, integration, innovation and inspiration. Automate experiences for efficiency, integrate products that will contribute and collaborate with one another instead of creating broken and diluted customer experiences; innovate and think future state. Ask yourself, how will your customer’s experience change in the next 24 months, and how do you prepare for that today? Inspire your teams to think beyond the status quo and stop playing it safe! Fail fast, learn even faster and recoup & recharge. Create products that can work in concert with one another to provide your customers with a platform they can trust and grow with. Grow for your customers so they can grow too, and grow with your customers to strengthen your value and customer focus.

The bottom line here: You need to level-up your product development game and continuously outperform yourself. Leverage your products [catalog] as a platform and keep growing with hybrid solutions you can commercialize and eventually monetize. Be a trendsetter!

Dr. Arlene Espinal

Chief Digital Officer | Voted 2020 “Top 100 Global Technology Leader” by HITEC | Transformation Leader

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