Shared Value not Shareholder Value – Platforms and Digital Ecosystems Need to Grow Up

understanding interaction field

Platform businesses have been the business model du jour for a while now and for good reasons. It is the new way of thinking about markets in terms of participants that transact to create and consume value. Consumers are participants, and so are one or more producers. Value is created through large numbers of transactions. Think Amazon, which learns about you through all the purchases you make on Amazon Prime.

If there is one group of producers and consumers, the business model is typically called a “platform.” Uber is an example – the participants are riders and drivers. With Airbnb, there are travellers and hosts. With more than one producer and consumers, we typically talk about a digital ecosystem. An ecosystem is a way of providing adjacent products or services by collaborating with other companies or business units and sharing data generated on the platform. Uber entered food delivery with Uber Eats which adds restaurants as an additional participant in the Uber ecosystem. They then built out the ecosystem to include Uber Health, Uber Freight, and Jump bike and scooter sharing, for example.

A third business model is the interaction field. Unlike platforms and digital ecosystems, an interaction field is not transactional but interactional. It feeds on continuous engagement, participation, and collaboration between multiple groups, not just many discrete transactions such as another ride with an Uber or another booking on Airbnb. It delivers shared value to everyone, not just the platform owners or ecosystem partners. It creates new value that solves entirely new problems; it does not just solve existing problems better or more efficiently. Nor does it merely take out frictions or pain points in commerce or shopping experiences.

Flatiron Health, a Roche Pharma company, enables an interaction field that unites patients, care providers and even competing pharmaceutical companies and regulators like the Food and Drug Administration. This bond results in continuous interactions of millions of patients and care providers sharing data about every single instance of cancer treatment. The interactions are rich exchanges of learning with a depth that has enabled a larger network of companies like pharmaceutical companies and life science companies to collaborate with the FDA to approve therapeutic solutions earlier. In turn, this creates more effective treatments for cancer patients.

In short, unlike the more transactional platforms and digital ecosystems of today, the Interaction Field model (when executed well) does not just serve to extract value for the benefits of investors or shareholders – it shares out value to all participants fairly.

To learn more about the interaction field model, read the Interaction Field book: