There are growing expectations about a rising disruptive force in the technology market. Gartner calls this the Nexus of Forces, the Open Group refer to Open Platform 3.0, and IDC refers to it as the Third Platform. It is a wave of ‘digital’ technology innovations that, when taken together, present the most significant change and challenge to business and IT in many years.

The first platform was based around mainframe, terminal connectivity and centralised data & processing, printing, and control.  The second was built on the introduction of personal computing, the PC and the LAN (Local Area Network), de-centralised computing, and the proliferation of local data storage.  The Third Platform is being built amidst the explosion of mobile computing, social media, cloud services, and Big Data analytics technologies.

This evolution from first to third platform has seen staggering changes in the ubiquity and scale of IT in daily life and business.  Two decades ago, the place of work contained a desk, furnished with a phone and desktop PC on a wired network.  The majority of tasks and activities were completed from there.  Today, constrained only by mobile coverage and battery life, all of these tasks can be achieved (with varying efficiency) by a whole gamut of different mobile and wireless devices from any location.

The number of applications has grown from thousands to millions.  User numbers globally have grown from millions to billions.  However, what is significant is not just the sheer number of users and apps, but the use of additional contextual data – location, time – to improve the relevance of, and therefore usefulness and consequently popularity, of the app (think of TripAdvisor, Google Maps, AccuWeather to name a few), and this encapsulates the challenge of the third platform.

On the surface, the challenge to adopt third platform opportunities appears to be a technological one.  However, organisations often rely on older technology because the delivery of a new solution requires the business to change culturally as well as operationally.  Conversely, a failure to deliver the operational and cultural changes can undermine any attempts to take advantage of the new technologies.

What will differentiate successful businesses in the Third Platform will be their ability to do more for their customers with the same data: how they engage with clients and customers, their reliability and resilience, the speed at which they deliver products and Services, and how they innovate.  How these technologies are used to drive innovation and differentiation in the market will prove more decisive than the technologies themselves.

At Exception, we provide a range of services to help customers define the role of the third platform within their business.  This includes supporting the creation of digital strategies and architectures, designing and developing mobile solutions, and building the foundational technologies and infrastructure that will make the delivery of rich digital services possible. Exception works with some of the UK’s largest companies and government organisations to integrate digital solutions into their existing operations. If you’re looking for advice or support with your digital project, contact Exception today.

David Luke

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