Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Great platform example

Thanks to Ajesh Shah, my new colleague, I got introduced to a good example of platform tool.  I wanted to share it with you in hopes of clarifying what I meant by platform on my earlier post.


First when I saw them on my Twitter timeline, I dismissed it as one of those urban vocabularies that I'll rarely encounter.  But it actually turned out to be a lot more useful and sticky (with catchy acronym).  It stands for 'if this then that'.  It's a tool that lets you create if-then-else rule on a conditional event on social media, weather, and other external triggers, and using that trigger to perform a certain action.

For example, you'll be able to set up an if-then-else rule such that if you upload a photo to Instagram, that photo can be copied to Dropbox.  Or if you get an email from your boss, you can forward it to your SMS so that you get instant alert when you are away from the email.  Better yet, you can alert your coworkers when you are out of office so that things don't fall through the cracks.

Possibilities are limitless.  It's almost turning all of the external events to triggers and actions (well at least on a few dozens of supported channels), and providing easy-to-code abstraction on top of them to tap into everyone's creativity.  It is a perfect example of platform because it is simple to understand what it does, and (I would argue because of its simplicity) it can be extended to cover many use cases, i.e. broadly applicable.

That's the power of platform.  It does one simple thing and does it really well.  At the same time it provides a way for people to extend it to solve their own problem.  While fans are doing all these, platform builder gets more value out of these extensions because of broader applicability.  It's a virtuous cycle that made Apple iPhone (App Store), Facebook (Facebook Apps) and Twitter (API) so wildly successful.

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