By Kurt Bilafer, Global Vice President of Sales & Success, WePay

Why Every Business Needs to Become a Platform, And How To Do It What’s the hottest trend in business right now? Social networks like Facebook and Twitter? Sharing economy apps such as Uber and Airbnb? Apple, and its line of personal computing devices? Or, Software as a Service for the enterprise, such as Salesforce?

You could probably make a case for any one of these, but here’s the thing: Although on the surface these companies appear to have completely different business models, they all share one very powerful component—a scalable online platform connecting people and ecosystems.

Each monetizes their platform differently. Facebook and Twitter sell ads alongside the content people share with each other. Uber and Airbnb take a fee for connecting buyers and sellers of transportation and lodging respectively. Apple manufactures products, owns retail stores and also has an open platform for developers to build and sell apps that makes the products Apple sells even more desirable. Salesforce does the same thing in the B2B world. Its cloud platform lets sales and marketing teams connect and share information about customers and prospects, and developers have enriched the value of the platform with a host of applications that integrate to the platform and add to its functionality.

Platforms’ speed of growth and economies of scale enable them to out-compete traditional businesses. To stay competitive, businesses have to learn to leverage the power of platforms. That starts with platform thinking.

What is platform thinking?