We’ve been writing several blog posts about the API-First, open everything, and platforming vision. What is clear is the new digital paradigm. In the short term, companies will have to ask themselves where they fit into this vast ecosystem, the fertile ground of the “network economy.”
The alternative is: should they position themselves as “business as a service” or as “business as a platform”?
Benefits to companies
As studied, there is no alternative but to disappear from the galaxy to the benefit of other companies that will have been able to play the exponential force of the networked business.
The question of this vision is: How can we imagine the global organization of interactions between these different platforms?
Even if the number of major platform players seems limited by nature, we need to think about an organization of relations between these different operators, a hierarchical organization in a structure close to what we could observe by looking up at the sky.
We can think of the organization of these “business as a service” and “business as a platform” companies as a framework of what exists in the universe with stars, constellations, galaxies, superclusters.
Each business as a service company is seen as a star starting from a galaxy gravitating around a platform company that will provide the expected services.
It’s clear that such a centralized organization (like the one established on the internet), with a few GAFA mastodons in a quasi-monopoly position, goes against the natively decentralized vision of the internet. This is the only vision bearing balanced growth that will find its limit in the organization of exchanges.
How should we think about the organization of exchanges between these major platforms?
As previously seen within the same platform, a single-player plays the role of a central trusted third party. This provides all the regalian functions (trust, security, identity, monetization, logistics, and insurance).
But between these major platforms and different players with similar weight and functions, how can we find a kind of independent trusted third party, above existing information systems, robust enough to play this role of arbitrators of exchanges?
Providential structure of blockchain
This is where the providential structure of blockchain appears to be a simple, elegant, low-cost proposition, capable of meeting all functional expectations.
A ledger on an independent blockchain (bitcoin, ether) will enable the functions of a trusted third party. This guarantees the non-repudiation of contracts between platforms, the automatic settlement of transactions and disputes, and even monetization.
Who should own this blockchain? No one and everyone.
It’s interesting to observe the troop movements of the GAFA platforms on the subject of the blockchain.
Of course, Facebook was a forerunner with Lybra (now Diem). By bringing together many players under the pretext of reinventing a system of digital money between internet users and giving the unbanked (1.7 billion people) access to a means of payment, there are smart contract functions (developed in “Move” language) that make it possible to provide all the platform’s functions.
Google Finance has just announced the integration of crypto blockchains (bitcoin, ether, Litecoin) in its service. Is this a coincidence?
As for Amazon, do you know AMB? Under this acronym hides the Amazon Manage Blockchain, supporting an instance of Hyperledger. What is it used for?
Among the GAFA, only Apple hasn’t yet unveiled its blockchain strategy. It’s logical because of Apple’s position, which aims to be the ultimate trusted third party in the digital age.
“What happens in your iPhone stays in your iPhone,” they claimed at the CES in Las Vegas, castigating competitors who do not respect private data enough, and positioning Apple as the champion of privacy.
Didn’t they deny the FBI access to the data stored on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone? This is an assertion of strategic vision.
However, even Apple is evolving on this centralizing strategy, seeing that it’s by nature limiting and unable to meet the challenges of exponential growth.
Woz, Apple’s co-founder who is never far from Tim Cook’s ears, has become the pope of cryptocurrency for the past two years.
Therefore, all the lights are green to imagine very soon a supranational organization to organize relations between major platforms, an organization based on the blockchain.
Technically, all the building blocks are there.
The only two questions are:
- To know how this digital “WTO” will be initiated, which will lay the first stone, and which will understand the interest of this decentralized organization.
- What model of blockchain will support this project (Proof of work backed by a digital currency, Proof of stakes)?
Because the real risk is to see the emergence of a blockchain subnetwork (private or consortium blockchain) that cannot meet the necessary distribution of regulatory roles and will only temporarily postpone the need for interactions between platforms.
This pseudo-opening limiting the possibility of new entrants will merge the monopolistic position of the GAFA and will not allow a healthy evolution of the digital business.
Read the white paper to learn more about open banking in the age of digital transformation.