Seven years later, Steve Jobs also turned quite a few heads when he announced he was creating an Apple app store, and invited company-external developers to add applications for Apple devices on the platform, therefore giving everybody – from small one-person-businesses to major software enterprises – the opportunity to sell their apps to all Apple customers. And today, software companies such as Uber turn our understanding of mobility upside down with their innovative solutions.
These examples from the present and the past are on the one hand based upon a new understanding of cooperation – and on the other hand, upon a new form of platform-based technology. Success in the digital age comes from curiosity, a pioneering spirit, the power to innovate, and above all, speed.
A success story of digital collaboration
Wikipedia, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and many other companies apply the 'collaboration concept'; "It's all about finding new, future-proof forms of cooperation between individuals in a complex world; cooperation which allows the integration of freedom and complexity on the one side, and empathy on the other," says Matthias Horx, founder of the Future Institute. Nowadays, complex products can only be developed and offered with the necessary speed in cooperation with other (often external) organisations.
This is why collaboration and open innovation are so in vogue: partners work together to find solutions, merging different skills and perspectives, using the creativity of all parties involved. This approach doesn't just accelerate the development of solutions, but also ensures their applicability and a high level of acceptance from the user side.
Significant potential for the housing industry
Platform providers such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook or Airbnb are particularly good examples of the collaboration concept. They all connect a large number of market participants with the help of digital technologies, forming a market within a defined ecosystem. Their objective: solutions development, distribution or purchase of products in a community – and all of this based on a connecting platform technology.
More than half of the ten most valuable companies worldwide use platform-based technologies. Right now, no company, not even the largest company in the world, is capable of developing all necessary or offered solutions itself or of developing proprietary platforms for business interfaces. Thus, it is not surprising that platform economics have strongly gained in importance. Many B2C platform providers such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook often hold a dominant position in their area; these developments should also begin to show in the B2B area.
In the housing industry, platform models are also already very important today, helping market participants to make processes more simple, more transparent, and faster – to connect market participants, and to benefit from new services. The type of platform varies (depending on the application scenario), with technical platforms, platforms as a business model (open-ended and closed), or multifunctional platforms being some of the most well-known examples. They connect one or several market participants via digital technologies, simplifying the exchange between the former. At the end of the day, companies benefit from efficiency gains and added value for their clients – whether in the logistics, fashion, tourism or property sectors. It is therefore no surprise that this technological development continues to gain importance.
Collaboration of developers and users
With its Mareon platform (launched already in 2001), Aareon belongs to the pioneers when it comes to platform solutions in the housing industry. Mareon is a web-based service portal which connects craft trade enterprises and property companies on a single platform. Via a joint interface, housing companies can hire the craft trade enterprises whose information is stored in Mareon and transfer the data required for order settlement directly into their IT solutions.
In 2019, Aareon made another decisive step, when it established the property and housing industry's first comprehensive and holistic development platform. Companies can develop IT solutions (such as customer relationship management applications, smart building systems, applications for managing supplier relations, apps for managing individual functions, or mobile solutions) for housing and property management on the Aareon Smart Platform, subsequently transferring them into Aareon Smart World. Hervé Cliquet, Head of the Digital Platform and the Innovation Lab at Aareon, was involved in the development of the Aareon Smart Platform right from the start, and knows that "companies, also those in the property sector, expressly wish for flexibility when expanding their digital ecosystems. Sometimes, the desire is for a rapid integration of new solutions, which is exactly what the Aareon Smart Platform does. This way, we can create added value for our clients and their partners, also benefiting from use of the product offering and client retention."