Associations Are the Original Platform Business Model
You’ve probably heard and read a lot about platforms. Google is the information platform, Amazon is the retail platform, Uber is the transportation platform, Apple is the entertainment platform, Airbnb, Pinterest, etc.
As a refresher on what a platform is, a platform is a business model that creates value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups, usually consumers and producers. In order to make these exchanges happen, platforms harness and create large, scalable networks of users and resources that can be accessed on demand. The convener of the platform is the central entity and provides an interface for the constituents it harnesses to interact.
So, as a non-profit “convener” (Association or Society), you are the trusted intermediary that has overcome the number-one challenge of building a platform. You have convinced all (or at least most) of the industry players to participate. This is the hardest part, and you’ve done it.
Now, enter 2019 and ask yourself, how are we adding value, how are we advancing the interests of the ecosystem we serve, and how do we make our “interface” irresistible?
What is your interface, you ask? For most of you it’s your website, your conferences, and your annual meeting or trade show.
Think about other successful platform interfaces. Take the successful new industry events Money 20/20, HLTH, Shoptalk, and Groceryshop. Each of these successful businesses could be mistaken for events. What are they really? They are platforms that have used the interface (convening an industry at an event) to coalesce, add value, and monetize an entire industry sector.
The event IS the platform. They don’t need committees, government affairs, burdensome governance, and membership. They are skimming the cream off the top of the financial services, health care, retail and grocery ecosystems with great success.
The question is, do you think of your organization as a platform? If not, think again. And be ready for an insurgent competitor eyeing your audience, your sector, your ecosystem, and your business model as ripe for disruption.
Better yet, get started now on how you can be that disruptor and usher your membership and your organization into the platform economy era.
You’ve done the hard part, now it’s a matter of flipping your thinking and seeing the potential of your organization in a new light. This is the fun part.