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Are the Indian Tech Startups Building Platforms or just Products?


Let me start by asking this question – what differentiates a platform from a product? A product is typically targeted at consumers and the only metric to measure the success of a product is the number of consumers using the product or the market share. But what is a platform? A platform is a product that goes beyond the consumers and builds a thriving ecosystem around it. Majority of this ecosystem consists of developers and other product companies that embrace and extend the original product. Facebook is undoubtedly a platform. That is because there is a very healthy ecosystem around Facebook that literally brought everything from the digital storefronts to the commercial e-learning services into Facebook platform. The other example is Amazon.com, which is one of the early companies that realized the advantage of building a platform and not just an online ecommerce store. That enabled Amazon to quickly become the only digital outlet for traditional brick and mortar retail companies. In the recent past many companies successfully transitioned from a product company to a platform company. Apple and Google are the examples of the new generation platform companies. Of course, Microsoft made sure that everything that they built is a platform by encouraging its partners to complement the functionality. Do you know that the most popular consumer product of Microsoft, Microsoft Office is a strong platform? There are tens of thousands of companies whose products and business models revolve around the Microsoft Office platform.

Ecosystem

Technically what turns a product into the platform is the Application Programming Interface or API. An API is a hook for developers to tap into the power of a product. This opens up many avenues for the developers to extend the scenarios that go beyond the original intent of the product. An API lets developers automate the functionality without going through the user interface. For example, if you are an ecommerce website, you can integrate your product tracking page with the Blue Dart API to provide a unified and seamless experience to your customers to track the status of their order. Interestingly, once a product starts exposing the basic API, the consumers of the API will drive the innovation and will influence the evolution by shaping the roadmap. Over a period of time, the API becomes mature and starts powering other successful products and services thus transforming the original product to a complete platform.

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Janakiram MSV heads the Cloud Infrastructure Services at Aditi Technologies. He was the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. In his current role, he leads a highly talented engineering team that focuses on migrating and managing applications deployed on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.
Janakiram is an industry analyst with deep understanding of Cloud services. Through his speaking, writing and analysis, he helps businesses take advantage of the emerging technologies. He leverages his experience of engaging with the industry in developing informative and practical research, analysis and authoritative content to inform, influence and guide decision makers. He analyzes market trends, new products / features, announcements, industry happenings and the impact of executive transitions.
Janakiram is one of the first few Microsoft Certified Professionals on Windows Azure in India. Demystifying The Cloud, an eBook authored by Janakiram is downloaded more than 100,000 times within the first few months. He is the Chief Editor of a popular portal on Cloud called www.CloudStory.in that covers the latest trends in Cloud Computing. Janakiram is an analyst with the GigaOM Pro analyst network where he analyzes the Cloud Services landscape. He is a guest faculty at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) where he teaches Big Data and Cloud Computing to students enrolled for the Masters course. As a passionate speaker, he has chaired the Cloud Computing track at premier events in India.
He has been the keynote speaker at many premier conferences, and his seminars are attended by thousands of architects, developers and IT professionals. His sessions are rated among the best in every conference he participates.
Janakiram has worked at the world-class product companies including Microsoft Corporation, Amazon Web Services and Alcatel-Lucent. Joining as the first employee of Amazon Web Services in India, he was the AWS Technology Evangelist. Prior to that, Janakiram spent 10 years at Microsoft Corporation where he was involved in selling, marketing and evangelizing the Microsoft Application Platform and Tools.