Some years ago, I wondered why so few companies thought they needed our help. Not that we had too few customers, but it was a small clientele that wanted to engage in deep discussions with us. From the start, we have been at our best working with great companies which are deeply software skilled. An advisor told us to change how we speak and behave in order to become more relevant to the most traditional companies. I can tell a few fun stories from those conversations and experiments, but that’s for another day. That said, we put some effort in that direction. The effect was zero.

I concluded that I was on the wrong path. It wasn’t that we should become more traditional; it was the traditional companies that needed help to make software thinking an integral part of their business thinking. If they, for example, are Tayloristic in every fiber of their being, well, there’s probably not much we can do for them until they see a significant reason to change.

We have continued using our old strategy, namely helping customers to get rid of tech hinders to their business development and open bottlenecks to create new - and enlarge old - revenue streams. At the same time, I have been intrigued by the “platform as a business strategy” for some time now. We’ve learned a lot and I think we will be a great partner for implementing such a strategy.

Instead of a company just selling their products/services to their customers, it is often possible to create an eco-system for the old customers and other vendors, for example. If well done, it will attract more customers and, consequently, more vendors and other service suppliers. And then yet more customers and so on and so forth. The power of the network effect could be tremendous. My old dream of helping many traditional companies is resurfacing! The typical examples of companies using the platform as a business strategy are Uber, AirBnB, and App Store, but the principles are also interesting to more traditional companies.

Since I’ve found this strategy so interesting and inspiring, it came as no surprise to find myself experiencing the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. It’s like when you are about to become a parent; you see child carriages everywhere you look. I’ve seen possibilities for platform strategies with most prospects and customers ever since. Strangely enough, that wasn’t the case with one of our oldest customers and my closest context.

A while back, I met with an old customer of ours whom we have worked on projects with a few times over the years, although it’s been a couple of years since the last time. I told my customer how eager I was in helping customers with their platform strategies. His response was “that’s what we started 15 years ago and are very successful with, don’t you remember?” At my age, I don’t blush that often any longer, but this was one of those moments. How on Earth didn't I think about them/that the first time I started investigating platform strategies…? When thinking about it, back then, I didn’t realise that they were executing a platform strategy. With my current understanding, it would be very interesting to help out with it in an improved way at the technical level and also overall.

Over to my closest context, which also escaped the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon for some reason. At factor10, we hire the best and most passionate consultants who could just as well have been running single-consultant-companies. (That has actually, from the start, been a descriptor for the people we are looking for.) We provide them with very good skills enhancements and expose them to the most interesting colleagues, and the most interesting customers. The more great consultants, the more great customers. The more great customers… factor10 is creating the eco-system and adding value to it and benefit from it as well. A typical win-win-win. My colleague said to me, “Isn’t it obvious that we are a platform company?” :) To some extent, maybe we are?

Well, of course platform strategy isn’t and won’t be everywhere, but we will probably find it in more places when moving forward. Next time, I’ll write about software architecture and development concerns for implementing platform strategies.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Join the discussion and read more here.