Phil Simon (author of "The Age of the Platform") sees the platform and its ecosystem as two conjoined entities. I get the logic behind his combination of these two, but I have chosen to keep the two concepts separated in the ERP space as it is clear to me that too few vendors see them as one combined goal.
To these vendors, a platform is a collection of technologies. An ecosystem is something they will worry about "someday". Phil believes a platform is "an extremely viable and powerful ecosystem that quickly scales, morphs, and incorporates new features (called planks in this book), users, customers, vendors and partners." He adds, "the most vibrant platforms embrace third-party collaboration. The companies behind these platforms seek to foster symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationships with users, customers, partners, vendors, developers, and the community at large."
The planks that Phil discusses are needed to create large, vibrant platform ecosystems for the ERP space. I believe the planks that ERP vendors should include capabilities such as:
- Application marketplace/monetization engine/
- Payment processing/currency
- Channel partner built apps
- Customer extensions
- Development tools
- Social tools
- Mobile tools
- Analytic tools
- Big data services
- Place technology (maps, RFID, etc.)
- Collaboration tools
- Context sensitive content
- Industrialized compute power (or peak computing power)
- Third party data/content
When I meet with ERP vendor executives, I often hear them rattle off portions of the list above. However, what is so telling is how they intend to utilize these capabilities. For many of the technologies, like mobile applications, they see these technologies as being something that will be part of the core part of their product and not something that will be utilized by a third party. Likewise, mechanisms to create a way to publicize and monetize third-party products are way down the priority list for the vendor. In fact, the development efforts have a eerily familiar ring to them from vendor to vendor. The initial platform efforts are designed around extending the original SOA model with ecosystem enhancements well out into the future of the product map.