By Robin Murdoch, Global Industry Lead of Software & Platforms at Accenture
With everything from video conferencing to critical systems being accessed through the cloud, platform companies have been thrust into a new position of responsibility. This puts enormous pressure on their infrastructure and teams, as countless businesses rely on them to stay afloat.
Big tech and emerging digital platform companies are establishing themselves as the digital glue across the globe during this pandemic. Every day, consumers and businesses are depending on these technologies for work, to stay informed and connected, and to order supplies.
This prominence makes platform companies uniquely positioned to resolve cross-industry challenges and support essential business functions. And, with this prominence comes great responsibility. Platform companies must rise to the occasion to maintain trust with users and keep the best interests of the consumer at the center of everything they do.
To do this, platform companies should focus on the following five areas of opportunity:
Ensure Uninterrupted Access
Platforms are responsible for ensuring uninterrupted online access for billions of people. Up to this point, the technology has held up its end of the bargain: home broadband usage has at times doubled compared to pre-pandemic numbers, yet internet speeds across ten top U.S. cities have largely remained steady. Similarly, platforms’ distributed nature and infrastructure capacity allowed their systems to handle the unexpected surges of users. In the coming months, allocating resources to maintain platform availability must be a priority for digital providers – without it, nothing else is possible.
Enable Changing User Behaviors
COVID-19 has ushered society through abrupt behavioral changes in days that might otherwise have taken decades to unfold. Nearly one in four Americans said they will continue their increased video conferencing behavior after the pandemic and working from home may remain the norm for many businesses. Platform companies must lead with humility while facilitating these shifts. It is imperative for these companies to focus on the widespread enablement of products that aid the many over the few during this time of crisis. Through honest and responsible actions, such as providing product education and onboarding for SMBs, platforms can rekindle public trust and enable normalcy during uncertain times.
Build (and Grow) Customer Relationships
This marks a critical time for platforms as surging demands test their limits and present an opportunity for companies to develop positive, lasting customer relationships. To do their fair share, platform companies should not only offer scale and support, but also look inward and revisit product roadmaps and portfolios in light of changing demands.
Commit to Trust and Accuracy
Amidst an evolving crisis, the specter of misinformation is more threatening than ever. Beyond social platforms working to thwart dissemination of fake news, retail platforms have moved quickly to deactivate thousands of price gougers. Combating bad actors and discerning truths from falsehoods is critical in helping fight the crisis, and platform companies will be judged on their ability to do so.
Facilitate A Rapid Return to Growth
As we emerge from this crisis, many businesses will reflect on the imperative to adapt in order to survive. Companies on the brink of success or failure will turn to platforms for their resiliency, scale and cost effectiveness. In this time of transition, platforms can provide support to customers, ecosystem partners and communities by supporting their digital transformations or providing access to new audiences. In the long run, this could translate into loyalty and trust.
As the world perseveres through this challenge, platforms are tasked with adapting to a new environment while helping others do the same. Much of the economic recovery rests on their shoulders, and their leaders must act now to contribute to positive outcomes.