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As the number of companies embracing platform strategies has grown, so have the number of postings for platform-related talent. Last year more than 2,700 companies were on the hunt to fill platform related positions. A significant number of searches called for candidates with the ability to formulate and drive platform strategy. These roles come with titles such as VP, Platform Services Strategy, Partner Manager Platform Ecosystem, and Director, Platform Strategy.
The skills sought for platform strategy candidates often overlap with the skills required for digital transformation. However, they are not the same. It is best to think of digital capabilities as a necessary but not a sufficient condition for a great match. A platform strategy requires an additional set of capabilities that are important for candidates to be successful. It requires specialized knowledge about platform economics and governance to formulate a long-term platform strategy, build a roadmap for developing a third-party ecosystem of complementors, and drive internal cross-functional coordination.
Recruiters are critical to driving a successful job search. They serve on the front lines of the promoting, screening, and coordination required to assemble a strong slate of candidates. The challenge for platform strategy roles is that few search firms have specific platform expertise. It is therefore incumbent on the companies seeking platform talent to help recruiters. One key step is to provide the right screening criteria to help search firms identify and shortlist candidates.
Here are four questions that can be helpful in determining whether a candidate has a sophisticated understanding of platform dynamics.
What are three ways that platforms can overcome the chick and egg problem? Answers to these questions can determine how well a candidate understands the challenges associated with launching a platform.
Should a platform sponsor ever selectively promote one complement over another and if so why? This question probes a key element of ecosystem management and the importance of creating and sustaining value creation outside the boundaries of the traditional firm. Platform orchestrators must make careful choices about how promotion efforts will yield the biggest payoff for the ecosystem over time.
Should a platform sponsor demand exclusivity? This question goes what is called homing. Should a contributor to a platform encourage or demand loyalty or should it permit or even encourage contributes to also contribute to other platforms – i.e. multi-home?
How much of the core platform should be opened to spur developer innovation? This question goes to the question of how a firm can retain the added value it creates for its own benefit. To recover the costs of developing a platform, the platform leader must be able to capture benefits generated by the platform. But to ensure payback from this type of business model, the sponsor must ensure that the platform is adopted, which requires sharing in the value created with complementors. The ability of a candidate to articulate the costs and benefits of openness will help identify preferred candidates.
Arming recruiters with the right questions will ensure your job searches surface the right slate of candidates.
 “Platform Talent: The New Frontier in the Platform Economy,” January 6, 2020 https://www.thedigitaltransformationpeople.com/channels/people-and-change/platform-talent-new-frontier-platform-economy/
If you are interested in learning more about platform talent, consider joining the Platform Strategy Institute’s multiclient study: Platform Talent 2020: The Race for Talent in an Age of Platforms.
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