Prof. Lars Fend
The platforms are a key driver of growth. Economically, platforms are changing the demand curve. In other words, often I will only be able to sell products, systems, and equipment if there are digital platforms behind them, in particular data-centric platforms. Only if I offer content such as smart services in combination with products (which provide the data) and thus generate added value for the customer, can I even think of successfully marketing my systems. Or, because you have a very good digital platform with services, solutions, etc., I’m able as a vendor to shift the demand curve to the right, that is, demand a higher price for hardware, just because it is based on the right, customer-oriented platform. This leads to a higher gross margin and, depending on development expenditure, to higher profits. Apple couldn’t sell its smartphones for that much if the App Store didn’t exist.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone has to establish their own platform, because becoming established in the market is very resource-intensive. That’s why platform providers are emerging, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, that everyone can use for their apps. Possibility two: Partnering with one of the major providers – such as Siemens and its MindSphere IoT platform.
What makes a big difference to B2C markets is, of course, the complexity, connectivity, and capital intensity of the hardware, systems, and equipment. I need such an installed base if I want to comprehensively tackle big issues like energy, infrastructure, health, or Industrie 4.0. Smartphones and digital services are not enough. Nevertheless, digital components make it possible to greatly increase the value of these systems via a data platform. Ultimately, this creates substantial added value for the individual, the companies, and also for the society as a whole. Companies like Siemens – with a large installed base – have a clear advantage here, especially if they provide suitable connectivity mechanisms in the brownfield as well.