Emerging trends in technology – the platform revolution
Written by Matt Tighe
2017 is shaping up to be a big year for the LastMileLink team! Not only do we have a number of hugely important products that we are working on to continue to build the competitive advantage of CitySprint, we already have our first product available to the market and the second being trialled. On top of all of this activity, it’s a key focus of our team to develop world-leading tech that is based on emerging technologies.
This blog is the first of a three-part series to look into the three most talked about emerging technologies in the world at the moment. We will also look into how LastMileLink are looking to use, or using already, this tech to truly disrupt the logistics industry as a whole, and especially the final mile delivery space.
And so we begin, the first emerging trend to develop a competitive advantage in 2017 is….
The platform revolution
The use of platforms and how they are used in business are being redefined. There is a now a clear shift from platforms being used as a technical infrastructure, to ecosystem-enabling platforms which lay the foundation for new business models that blend humans and technology. A platform based ecosystem can exploit internal and external algorithms to generate value for a business as a whole, and technology will continue to grow as an integral part of employees’ and customers’ experience.
Platforms also provide a base of non-differentiated heavy lifting on top of which new, perhaps smaller or emerging businesses, can build innovative experiences without the level of investment that would normally be required. This can be considered a hierarchy and over time platforms are built on platforms, creating a pace of development previously unheard of. Examples of platform-enabling technologies include quantum computing, blockchain and IoT platforms.
The usual manifestation of a platform now is software as a service. It’s been common in the technology industry for years to offer software as a service or for software components, therefore removing the need to manage and host technology.
At LastMileLink, we use software services like DataDog and Loggly for some of our monitoring and logging. We decided that the value these companies add, with their teams dedicated to producing best in class solutions, is more cost-effective than trying to build in that area ourselves. At the lower level, we use Amazon Web Services as the best-of-breed cloud services provider rather than managing all our own data centres and value added platform services. As well as the obvious reduction in capital outlay from elastic scaling, AWS in some ways bridges a gap between software and hardware. It allows companies like us to consider infrastructure as software and apply all our best software development practices to it.
Similarly, LastMileLink’s platform allows CitySprint to provide API-based access to their national fleet to any business that has delivery requirements. Our real-time platform takes all of the hard work out of fleet management by matching the supply and demand of bookings to couriers and keeping senders and recipients updated. Send an API call and have deliveries actioned anywhere, anytime with webhook status updates in real-time. New (or existing) businesses can now create a whole raft of new commerical propositions involving delivery without huge investment to build a fleet or the highly available infrastructure and software required to operate it. We have built the APIs for our sister retail-focused delivery brand, On the dot. Visit the On the dot developers’ site to check out more: http://developers.onthedot.com/docs/