Platfornomous — a nightmare based on a truly imaginative story inspired by two books, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century by Yuval Harari and Army of None by Paul Scharre.
Bezos, Cook, Pichai, Zuckerberg, and many others inexplicably disappeared. Algorithms have hijacked their authorities: intelligent, ruthless algorithms. In 2027, we entered the age of autonomous platforms known as “Platfornomous.” Platforms with a revolutionized DNA are capable of harnessing vast arrays of technological advancements. An unprecedented integration between the biotech revolution, technological revolution, and a powerful military tactic is known as the “Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop.”
These Platfornomous made us economically irrelevant. The platform concept as we know it became irrelevant: the concepts of core interactions, network effects, and ecosystems became irrelevant.
Nightmare # 1 — Uber (Platfornomous) 2027
Uber made us irrelevant; they moved backwardly from being a two-sided marketplace to a Platfornomous pipe-based business. Uber made drivers irrelevant by directly renting autonomous cars from their owners and downloading their algorithm in them. Ironically, while making drivers redundant, Uber exponentially unlocked an unprecedented new supply: everyone’s car can be part of the Uber fleet, on the road 24/7.
This is a modified illustration — the original illustration can be found on Sangeet Choudary page
Owners (previously known as drivers) earned passive income from renting their cars until Uber made them utterly irrelevant by renting cars directly from the car manufacturers. They introduced a new securitization scheme (car-backed securities) and invited investors to fund the game.
Then Uber started to hijack riders’ decision-making powers. In other words, Uber figured how to make the core interaction irrelevant: creation, curation, and consumption.
On January 12th, 2027, I traveled with my son, Faisal, to the United Kingdom for medical checkups. Once arrived, the Uber autonomous car was waiting for me. Uber algorithm via the OODA loop was in direct contact with my smartphone (a smart thing in 2027). Uber extracted the necessary information and suggested the necessary transportation arrangement (from the airport to the hotel). I just clicked “Okay” on the pop-up message. The algorithm did everything, even before I think of making such an arrangement.
The next day, sharp at 8:45 am, an Uber car was waiting in the hotel’s parking to take us to the hospital. Again, Uber accessed my calendar and made the arrangement.
I finished my checkups earlier than expected. While walking with Faisal out of the hospital’s gate, I thought of searching for an Uber car to take us back to the hotel. Surprisingly, I received a pop-up message from Uber app greeting me and suggesting to take us back to the hotel. A nearby Uber car with an activated OODA loop was on the hunt.
The car was fully aware of its surroundings and understood the environment. The observed mode was searching for potential riders. The moment we stepped out of the gate, the car detected us. The algorithm immediately recognized us (based on our morning trip from the hotel to the hospital) and decided to engage with me by sending me a greeting message to take me back to the hotel. When I clicked ‘Accept,’ the car acted immediately and approached us.
While in the car, the OODA loop via facial recognition was observing us, in order to enhance our journey. The car detected “excitement” on Faisal’s face nearby London Zoo. The algorithm immediately double-checked my calendar as well as my health rates via the built-in biometric sensors to see if it is suitable to take us to the zoo. Then the car asked my son if he wants to go to the zoo. We agreed, and Uber’s robotic concierge bought us the tickets. Within a few minutes, we were at the London Zoo.
This is how Uber made the core interaction irrelevant: by shifting the power (creation, curation, and consumption) from the drivers and riders to its algorithm (autonomous cars). As you can see above, Uber made the advertisement industry irrelevant, too. They integrated an advertisement into our experience, by which they managed to take a direct cut (e.g., from London Zoo).
Uber even made the conventional competition irrelevant. While Uber’s competitors will be trying to get our attention, we will be in the backseat of one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles. The competition in 2027 is no longer about getting our attention; it will be about hacking our decision-making power.
So, if the core interaction is irrelevant — producers of value (drivers), consumers of value (riders’) decision-making power, 3rd parties (advertisers), and competitors, ask yourself, do we still need network effects? When you have absolute control over value creation, the network effects become meaningless.
Nightmare # 2 — Amazon (Platfornomous) 2027
Is it possible that the ecosystem may be irrelevant? Let us see how Amazon will make the ecosystem of book publication’s irrelevant.
By 2020, Amazon moved from selling books to bridging the gap between authors and readers — moving from selling books to offering services (click here if you want to dig deeper). Also, Amazon introduced the streaming concept (i.e., the Netflix of books). Amazon allowed us to unbundle books (Spotify of books), only reading what we need. Amazon enabled us to re-bundle books: selective chapters from different books. Everyone was happy. Authors and readers were getting prescriptive insights (the evolution of data utilization, as advocated by John Hagel).
By 2027, Amazon launched its Virtual Interactive Library (“VIL”): the wonderland of books. Amazon’s VIL disrupted the concept of reading. Inside this wonderland, we talked to books, and they spoke back to us. Based on your purchasing history, a book will approach you and introduce itself to you. You will be ‘in’ the book, in direct conversation with the digital version of the author. If you pick Bad Blood, you will see Elizabeth Holmes in one of Theranos’ labs with a tiny drop of blood coming from her finger. You will be able to attend one of the board of directors’ meetings, maybe even sitting beside Kissinger or Mattis. You will experience how weak the company’s corporate governance was. You can also talk with Holmes, but be careful not to be hypnotized by her blue eyes and deep mesmerizing voice.
Amazon redefined social connectivity by bringing us (authors and readers) within a new social context (around books), we eagerly and collectively shared our feelings, opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Amazon allowed us to collaborate and to create new books in such virtual creation spaces.
Behind the scenes, our attention becomes a hostage of Amazon’s algorithm, as Amazon extracts data from us — every tiny muscle in our face, our heartbeats, eyes’ contraction, blood pressure, temperature, etc. The algorithm captured our feelings with every page we flip, with every paragraph we read, and with every word we see. Likewise, what Uber did to drivers, Amazon did the same to authors. It marginalized them until they become irrelevant.
This is a modified illustration — the original illustration can be found in John Hagel article in the above link
Yes, the algorithm will enable us to design custom-made books. You can select the title, select the authors (digital version) you want to co-author your book, and specify the table of content. The algorithm will use everything it knows about you (the language you like, writing style you like, catchy phrases you prefer, and your recent opinion on the subject), and then curate everything been said or written by the selected authors, including their current view (from social media) according to your preferences. Within a few minutes, your tailor-made book will be ready. You can even listen to it by the voices of selected authors, or even by Morgan Freeman’s voice. With time, Amazon will hack your decision-making power, and it will dictate what you should read (making readers irrelevant).
While reading your book, the algorithm is examining your face, it might detect a weakness in your eyes. Knowing your location, it will suggest that you should visit the newly opened eye clinic opposite your house. Accordingly, Amazon will take a cut from the clinic for your eye checkups. The clinic doesn’t need to pay an advertisement agency anymore; it needs to pay the Platfornomous.
These platfornomous dismantled the core interactions, network effects, and ecosystems. We need to go back in time to stop them from making us irrelevant. We need the help of the remaining avenger' superheroes from “Infinity Jobs” to fight the End Game.
The knowledge of the above superheroes indeed inspires the remainder of the post. You will be inspired, too, if you visit their sites (here, here, here, and here). Their knowledge is available publicly!
To the fight.
In this fight, I would like to introduce a new weapon, “Longevity Growth,” which is inspired by John Hagel’s “Leveraged Growth.”
For crystal understanding, it will help if you play this short (1:33 minutes) video.
As explained by John Hagel, “Li & Fung” use a scalable pull platform to pull out resources when needed, where needed, as needed. They are operating within a single ecosystem (single industry). With longevity growth, you can imagine “Li & Fung” using a collaborative pull platform that can collaborate with other platforms, even from different ecosystems to orchestrate multiple supply chains — helping apparel designers to integrate health consciousness with the art of fashion (biometric sensors with fashion lines).
For a platform to maintain its longevity growth, it must focus on the three pillars: producers of value, consumers of values, and the ecosystem. To achieve longevity growth, the three pillars must evolve from the passive layer to the active layer all the way to the interactive layer.
Passive Layer is all about centralized coordination. It is transactional in nature with a primary objective to aggregate a known set of resources (assets, people, data, etc.) to facilitate a core interaction between two or more parties toward achieving mutual objectives. The focus is on a single job to be done.
Today, Uber is merely operating in the passive layer, mastering the centralized coordination from a purely transactional ideology by perfectly understanding a single job to be done and address it flawlessly (at least from an economic viewpoint).
The job to be done is merely to aggregate and coordinate the logistics to take us from point A to point B. The focus is on “Where” — where we are now and where we want to be. Uber is harnessing its capabilities and resources to enable drivers to fulfill riders’ needs effectively, efficiently, and repeatedly.
Longevity growth pushes you to expand and to explore unknown opportunities that may rest beyond your immediate domain. Let us see how Uber can expand into the active layer.
The active layer is about consensus cooperation. This layer requires a more in-depth understanding of the context. The active layer embraces the scalable learning mindset: growing by exchanging knowledge, assets, data, etc., and by allowing a higher level of interactions and stronger relationships towards supporting multiple objectives. This is the domain of the leveraged growth and the contextual age as advocated by John Hagel. The primary aim is to shape a new context.
Uber can expand into the active layer, by focusing on the consumer's (riders) dimension, to understand them at a granular level. To venture to the active layer, Uber must ask another question: “Why” in addition to “Where.” In other words, to venture from the passive layer to the active layer, Uber must understand the “Why” behind the “Where.”
The passive layer can be reflected by Ted Levitt’s famous quote: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” The active layer pushes us to go even further to ask “why” people want a quarter-inch hole. Let us put this into action.
Imagine me again at Heathrow Airport but this time in 2019. I unlocked my smartphone and started looking for Uber driver to pick me from the airport to the hotel (i.e., the core interaction under the passive layer). However, this time, I noticed an update to Uber’s app: a genuine interest understands my context at a granular level. The app’s interactive functionality encouraged me to give more details (data) about the nature of my visit. So, I mentioned that I am here for medical checkups and that I might need a good translator as well as a physiotherapist. In the afternoon, while relaxing in the hotel, I received a message from the Uber app about the detail of my transportation to the hospital. Surprisingly, my driver will be a licensed physiotherapist and translator.
From the above illustration, Uber can unlock a new core interaction (an upgraded core interaction). Specialized transportation by bundling the core interaction within a broader context (other services) to enrich the overall experience.
If the passive layer is about quantity (geographic density) as reflected in David Sacks' tweet, then, the active layer is about quality (experience enrichment).
The essence of longevity growth is to push platforms to look at the totality of our experiences rather than a tiny slice of it, and this will take us to the third layer: the interactive layer.
The interactive layer is explorative in nature and based on emergent collaboration, with an endeavor toward unlocking hidden potentials via shared vision. Networks of sequential jobs to be done toward enriching the totality of our experiences, and the primary objective is to empower new creation.
The interactive layer is not about what is happening now; it is about “what” might happen. The interactive layer is not about the platform, producers, consumers, nor the ecosystem. It is about a constellation of ecosystems (a network of ecosystems) or ecosystem of ecosystems. The interactive layer is an invitation to see and to create value outside your value chain.
The interactive layer under longevity growth is not about vertical integration nor horizontal integration; it is about collaborative integration.
We have multiple needs (independent, interdependent, sequential, etc.). For example, when you are traveling, you need good transportation, a place to sleep, and you need to eat decent food. The longevity growth concept is about capturing most of our needs (bundling them or orchestrate them).
So, let us label the above needs/jobs to be done (moving, eating, and sleeping) in the platform’s language. Let us look at them as core interactions within different platforms.
How can we link these separate core interactions (jobs to be done) in an integrated or sequential form?
To do so, we need to bring different ecosystems to serve a sequence of core interactions, by harnessing the power of their network effects (a concept that I talked about here). Each platform will allow its core interaction to intersect with the other: a plug-and-play concept on an ecosystem level. Regardless of being the rider, diner, or guest, the apps’ interfaces will allow me to freely move between the different ecosystems via its network effects.
If we enable integration between multiple network effects, a few platforms will be able to unlock infinite interactions among their participants (sudden amplification, ‘big bang effects’), and by allowing alternative algorithms to talk to each other within such deeply interconnected networks will unlock a universe of undiscovered opportunities. Such interconnected network effects will not be merely identified by the number of nodes and the nature of the connectivity between them: they will be identified by their emergent potentials and collaborative autonomy.