Startups must make an effort for the digitalization of their processes to keep up with the competition. When we talk about digital transformation, we automatically take into account technology because as a startup, it's expected of you to be innovative, use the best technology platforms, offer top-notch services and differentiate yourself.
So what can you do? Where can you start?
A simple answer is: study the tech platforms available in today’s market to strategize and be wise on what tools and systems you’ll build or buy for your company.
But don't worry because we are saving you the trouble of having to spend numerous hours on research, as we've summarized key aspects you can follow to select the best technology platforms for your startup. Let's dig in!
1. What is a technological platform? 2. What are some examples of technological platforms? 3. Best technology platforms for startups 4. Bonus: Software platforms to accelerate your startup’s growth 4.1 Analytics 4.2 Project management 4.3 Automation 4.4 CRM 4.5 Customer happiness 5. Conclusion
Have you noticed how social media networks like Instagram or Twitter are now called platforms? Even TikTok, AirBnB and Uber qualify as platforms, but what does a platform even mean and what do all these businesses have in common?
From a technical perspective, a “platform” initially meant the foundation that supports software. Now, it has a more complex definition, meaning that it serves as the base for the development and support of hardware and software. Over the years, platforms have become some of the most dynamic, innovative, and fastest-growing services.
So all the brands mentioned above have in common this environment for building and running apps, processes, and systems.
For a more complex understanding of this concept, Webopedia explains that:
"a platform can be defined as a hardware or software architecture that acts as a basic structure upon which applications, processes, and technologies are developed and run to enable business or work outcomes. A platform can also host an application or a service. Typically, a software platform supports many programming languages, engines, and web services and is also represented as a framework."
Let's start with a clear example: personal computers. The platform in this case is the PC's operating system which manages the computer's memory and processes. It's also the lowest level of a platform. The operating system is in charge of the PC's resources and services that will be needed by applications, as well as all of the hardware and software.
There are many types of platforms, but the most common tech ones are listed below:
Furthermore, we'll get into more detail about computing, database, mobile, application, API, and Artificial Intelligence Platforms.
Computing Platforms - also known as digital platforms, are environments where a piece of software is executed. They are built on top of operating systems that offer computing functionality for fields like virtualization or cloud computing.
Database Platforms - Put simply, it's data that comes manually or automatically (typical for smart devices)and is stored somewhere inside a database on a cloud. View it as the software that stores a collection of information of almost any type, organized in such a way that it can be accessed, managed, and updated either by other programs or by users directly. It is favored by many organizations because it requires an integrated set of technologies that are collectively designed to meet a wide range of business needs. It allows the acquisition, preparation, storage, delivery, and governance of data, including a security layer for users and applications.
On the other hand, a data management platform (DMP) is a software tool that manages the data and it includes a graphical interface. It houses valuable digital input like customer data (e.g cookie IDs, mobile identifiers) and campaign data, enabling users to manage a database easily. It is a managing platform that is favored by the digital marketing sector, more precisely marketing and sales, as it helps these departments put together a business strategy ensuring sustainable development.
To keep in mind: if you are interested in the topic of learning a management system, we recommend our case study about SEDUCO.
Mobile platforms - They include mobile operating systems and environments for the creation of mobile apps. They also target cloud platforms designed for mobile devices backends, and may include specialized APIs that are useful for mobile app developers. Some examples of mobile platforms include iPhone, Palm, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile.
Application Platforms - Are frameworks of services that application programs rely on for standard operations. It is designed for the app development process and you can view them as environments that include a set of tools for the deployment, design and development of apps.
API Platforms - They have the purpose of serving application development — building new capabilities, new experiences, fostering ecosystems, and more. You might come across the term API platform as being synonymous with API Management, Full Lifecycle API Management. It is also a cloud platform that performs functions such as load balancing, rate limiting and latency reduction.
AI Platforms (also called machine learning platforms) - They require the use of machines to carry out tasks that would be performed by human beings. These platforms activate the cognitive function associated with the human mind, performing actions like problem-solving, reasoning, learning, social intelligence, basically general intelligence. It's worth mentioning that the powerful integration of artificial intelligence (AI) frameworks, like natural language processing and automated predictive insights, are transforming what business intelligence can do for businesses. So, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and advanced algorithms are all no longer a fantasy from a science fiction movie. They are here and ready to use.
Selecting a cloud platform over others is not simple and it will come down to the wants and needs of your organization. Luckily, we've done our research and we are providing a list of the best five tech platforms that are ideal for startups. It will help you strategize the use of technology, based on your own requirements and end-goals.
It offers a range of computing services, including cost management, web and video delivery over the web, data management, and AI and machine learning tools. It is so popular because it offers a top security model, based on 15 years of experience, and a global network that allows quick collaboration between users. Overall, it is a collection of Google’s computing, networking, machine learning, storage, big data, and management services that run on the same Cloud infrastructure that Google operates internally for its end-user products i.e.: Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, and Google.
It is a global platform that has the largest and most dynamic community, with millions of active customers and tens of thousands of partners globally. It is a top choice for many organizations because of the variety of services it includes and because it has proved to be a reliable vendor over the years. It's easy to use, secure, flexible and you can select the operating system, web application platform, programming language, database, and other services you desire.
It offers the best price/performance there is in the market to date. Workloads deployed on this platform often need fewer cloud compute servers and block-storage volumes— diminishing the cost of delivering optimized workload performance. It is preferred by so many because of its audit management that is very good, the easy data analytics and data scanning, and you can manage and scale down networks across your company, while the platform remains stable and easy to use.
It is preferred over other operating systems because it is robust, easy to manage and administer, with rock-solid stability and minimal performance issues, and server reboots. Security-wise, they are strong as they use kernel-level technology to prevent all known symbolic link attacks, enhancing the security level of the servers. It also allows you to tailor the system and support subscription plans according to the customer's demands.
It is a developer-friendly infrastructure platform making the software engineers' jobs easier in terms of building management services. You can accurately predict your costs, scaling up or down as the traffic grows. Also, it is endorsed by 598k customers worldwide and it is popular because it provides its users with the right set of tools to operate a SaaS business profitably. Also, integration and provision of Kubernetes are seamless, and you can design robust applications using a comprehensive portfolio of compute, storage, database, and networking products.
Around 90% of Fortune 500 companies are using Azure to run their business. It is preferred by many because it supports a wide range of programming languages, operating systems, databases, frameworks, and devices, enabling companies to benefit from tools and technologies they've come to trust. You can enjoy an Azure free account for 12 months so you can test what works for you and your needs. You can build and deploy modern apps using serverless containers, and you can enjoy a fast NoSQL database with open APIs for any scale.
It is trusted by 6,000+ paying customers and it serves over 26,000 companies from different industries around the world, including Uber, Expedia, DocuSign, and Lemonade. It is an analytical platform that helps companies measure what matters to them, make decisions fast, comprehend the network effects, and build better products through data. Also, it has a short learning curve, it's useful for driving product adoption, boosting acquisition, reducing churn, and improving profitability. It's useful for making smarter, faster supply chain decisions by spotting anomalies and their causes.
It is advertised as the all-in-one analytics app because it helps you understand website traffic, user behavior, customer needs as well as feedback. It includes everything you need as a website owner to track and analyze your statistics and visitors in one application. It's also practical for business modeling to explore a range of decisions and to identify the essential elements that drive business.
Asana is a work manager, used in project management, that helps teams orchestrate their work, from small projects to strategic initiatives. It has over 93,000 paying customers and over 1.5 million paid users. With Asana, you can create a standard work intake process using Forms and get the details your team needs upfront, routing requests promptly, all in real-time. It's easy to use, with a generous free plan, and it includes tons of features & hundreds of integrations.
It is considered the number one software development tool preferred by agile teams. It tracks members, it's made for planning and building great products. Thousands of teams use it to capture and organize issues, assign work, and follow team activity. Also, you can connect Jira to an external user management system and you can also use it as a user management system for other Atlassian products.
It is an automation tool that helps you automate repetitive tasks between two or more apps, without needing code. If you use a wide range of business and productivity apps, Zapier is the platform that helps you connect them all. It is user-friendly, it offers a wide range of integrations available for various business needs, and through automation, you save time and remove human error.
When it comes to email marketing, Mailerlite is an easy, effective, free email newsletter software that does the job. You can enjoy their good free plan but even on paid plans, it is cheaper than competitors like Mailchimp. It's easy to use and set up, with great features like creating email campaigns, A/B split testing, marketing automation, audience segmentation as well as a great 24/7 support.
It is considered one of the top CRM platforms for two reasons. One: it has an excellent comprehensive free edition that surpasses most paid CRMs on the market. And two: you can use it across your marketing, sales, and customer service teams. Additionally, you'll enjoy full visibility into your sales pipeline in real-time.
This platform has become a success because it is the first customer experience management platform for B2B digital agencies that utilizes AI to measure client happiness in real-time. What's nice, according to Agency Spotter, is that the tool provides:
"personality insights based on written communication and business bits of advice based on the NPS level on which the client is on. The platform generates personised profiles for each customer while being 100% GDPR compliant..."
There's no doubt that technology platforms are playing a crucial part in business operations. Without a thorough understanding of your needs, what differentiates your business, you can make the wrong decisions that would make technology a liability and not an asset. We hope that through this article, you'll learn valuable information about how to use the technology at hand, what brands to choose and how to opt for the right platforms to scale your startup.
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