If we talk about the example of a digital platform business, then one word that comes to mind is Google, the word has penetrated into the human culture of the 21st century. Google is more than just great at building brand awareness for its company. They managed to fit into the way of life of modern society. Even unconsciously, almost all the activities of the virtual world and the real world flow and are related to Google. Google is also the locomotive of the latest industrial revolution, we call it the Industrial revolution 4.0. A revolution that changes the world’s economic order, and opens the map of digital business competition. A business competition that gave birth to hundreds of thousands of digital startups, which survive and continue to compete to become unicorns, dualcorns, and so on. Now Google has become a horseman in the business world. Amazingly, Google did not succeed alone, they also managed to open the door to the success of other parties who joined the dance on the platform. And this is what makes us worthy to learn business from this masterpiece in the 21st century.
How is Google’s secret to success in raising its products? How did Google manage to beat the competition and get other people to win in their business? Even Google also managed not to give the slightest way for its competitors to develop. In this article, we will review the secret of success, then you can learn and you can apply it in your own digital business.
Not just a product, but a business platform
The difference between conventional and digital business is what is traded. In a conventional business, you will be required to make the best products and market them well. But in digital business, you can’t just produce products. You are required to create a business platform. The difference between products and platforms in business is your engagement with the customer. If you only produce a product or service, without involving customers, for further consumption by the community, it means that you have just produced a product. Products are consumed by customers simply to complete or fulfill their needs.
While the platform is more than that. The platform is used by customers not just to solve problems or short-term needs. Rather, improving the quality of life of customers, and providing collateral damage soft skills for customers to develop their careers or businesses. The platform allows you and your customers to grow together. The higher the standard of living of customers who are helped by using your platform, the higher the value of your platform. In addition, customers also contribute to provide comments and suggestions for improvement to further improve the quality of your platform. And in the end, both sides win in this business. That is what is called a business platform.
If we talk about digital-based business examples, we can see how Google is developing its platform. Google has one business model called Software as a Service (SaaS). Google develops a platform in the form of useful software to do various things separately. Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Hangout, and Gmail are software that we can use for free. Some of the software was very useful for customers in improving the quality of work. And it must have been very helpful for many customers, including us.
All the software is given free access by Google to be accessed personally and separately. However, it’s not just personal customers who feel the benefits. Very many companies in the world feel the benefits of using the platform and want all the separate software bundled in one application with exclusive features. This is where Google does business. Google bundles all the software in one application called Google App. Then the company pays 5 USD per month for one user. The company is happy to make cross-checks to increase employee productivity. Companies are certainly profitable when their employees are productive. So does Google. That’s Google’s business platform. Win-win solution.
Firmly Maintaining Corporate Culture
You certainly know that loyal customers are real and exist in digital ventures. They are not just customers. They are big fans of the company and all the platforms you provide. For them, your platform is the best, even though many competitors are similar. The next question is, how do you get it? If so, how do you maintain your loyalty? Questions that are difficult to answer, of course.
One of the most proven tips in the business world in maintaining customer loyalty is to spread the organizational philosophy and corporate culture. These values can be in the form of your idealistic values in running a business, or the values of your business struggle that are suitable for certain circles. Make the philosophy and company culture included in the platform that you present. Make customers feel right about the value you serve on each platform. And keep those fundamental values unchanged.
And that’s what Google is like. Google is known for its idealistic values to realize ease and simplicity, but jump-start the potential to limitless in the internet. Since 1997, the design of Google’s search engine has not changed. Keep it simple, and easy to use. The design has been preserved to this day.
But that doesn’t mean that in order to maintain value, Google doesn’t improve performance. Google clearly improves the accuracy, speed, and database capacity of its search engine (if you are familiar with SEO, Algorithm is Google’s way of improving quality). Even now, Google’s search index has reached 100 million gigabits. Maintaining that value is the same as improving the performance of a business platform.
Growing With Customers
We have touched on this part a little above, but we have to mention it again. This dynamic digital business demands that you always prepare for changes and quality improvements. Make sure you make those changes with the customer. Because only customers know what they really need. Only customers know what kind of changes can make your platform better. Changes in digital business platforms can be divided into at least two. First, changes to address the problem. Second, changes to improve quality. For that, Google also has two examples that we can learn to respond to any changes needed.
The first change, changed to address the problem, was not a technical bug, but a bigger problem. Maybe you remember once, your lecturer or teacher once said. “Don’t take references from Google. Because the information on google is garbage. Invalid and irresponsible.” Obviously that is a problem for Google. And they respond by making changes. Google made extreme changes to its algorithm system (SEO). So that it really ensures that the information presented to the user is sorted strictly based on its quality.
Besides that, Google also developed Google Scholar or Google Scholar which is a special search engine for scientific research. All the information there is a product of research whose validity can clearly be accounted for.
The second change, changing to improve quality. Google is constantly making changes to improve the quality of its services. The special thing is that every change in this business always involves the customer. We can see from Google’s consistency in launching Beta versions of each platform it makes. The Beta version of the platform is a platform that is still under development. But Google gives customers access to try it out, then provide input on what changes must be made to make the platform optimal.
This clearly breaks the conventional business culture that requires only perfect products to be launched. Digital business on the other hand, your customers need to contribute to develop the company’s platform. Because in the end, the customer will also use the platform. Comfort and perfection of their version that we need to present. Not perfection according to us. So, change with the customer, for the benefit of the customer. And customers will not hesitate to always be loyal to accompany your changes.
Not Mastering All Resources
Conventional business enforces a doctrine of competition to win and dominate as much as possible. Companies in conventional business are encouraged to compete with each other, and control limited resources as much as possible. Then use it exclusively for their benefit. Google breaks that and makes the digital business ecosystem very different. Instead of controlling resources, Google actually cooperates and opens its resources to be owned by other parties. When the third party came forward, so did Google.
Take the example of how Google is not greedy to develop platform as a service (PaaS) services. This service makes Google provide space for programmers or developers to be able to use Google servers to create, develop, and market their own programs. The server can also be used using various programming languages, so that all programmers and developers can comfortably use Google servers.
If Google is a conventional player, Google may close access to its servers and only grant access to servers on a limited basis and with certain conditions. Considering the cloud is one of the most important resource assets on the internet. Google may keep the server only for use by itself, and specifically to make Google’s default programs only. Google may also impose certain language requirements and programming techniques, which Google either issues itself or gets paid usage rights from, in order to be able to use its servers.
But this is digital business. The more you share, the more you benefit. Then the higher the valuation and the profits your company will get.
Investing in the Impossible
Dizzy reading the last sub heading of our review, wait a minute, the above is not a figment, but it’s also not the last thing you can learn from their belief and courage to invest in the impossible.
Google has always been used to investing, developing, and even acquiring many platforms on the internet. The platforms we know today such as Blogger, Youtube, Google Maps, were not originally the original platforms developed by Google. Call it Android. The smartphone operating system dominates the smartphone OS market along with IOS. If we go back a few years, when Android was still pioneering, all mobile phone products at that time laughed at them.
At that time, Android was claimed as a platform that could not possibly have a place in the market. Because the market at that time was already controlled by Nokia. But in the end, we know who the victor is, and it lasts long enough even though they dance in a world known to be very dynamic. Amazing isn’t it? Google knew at that time that Android might indeed be a platform that was impossible for the market to absorb. But Google knows, the market is always dynamic, the impossible and uncalculated can dominate the market in the future.
Until now, Google still does. They are investing in multiple platforms that for now seem impossible. Such as Google Loon, Google Nest, Project Ara, and many other projects. All these platforms are not designed to win the market today, but to win the market five or ten years from now. And that’s how it should be to compete in the digital business. Can you be observant to see opportunities? Can you afford to invest in platform projects that seem impossible to sell at the moment? You set up a strange platform right now, but one that will dominate the market someday.
Google is an example of a real digital business and has become a giant with a million products. Hopefully this lesson is useful for those of you who are fighting in digital business competition. Come on, together we can do a lot to make a better business platform.