News & Updates

New AppDirect Report: Platforms Are the Key Differentiator in the Digital Economy

By Gretchen Dukowitz / January 21, 2019

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As we enter 2019, businesses will recognize a familiar theme. Digital transformation—and how to do it successfully—remains one of the top priorities for companies around the globe, and for good reason. According to IDC, digital-first strategies can boost revenue anywhere from 23 to 34 percent, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, companies face the challenge of identifying the factors that can give them an edge and help their digital initiatives succeed. Company culture, executive sponsorship, talent—all of these play an important part, but new AppDirect research reveals the most important differentiator: platforms.

In fact, 86 percent of executives say that platforms are the critical factor for success in the digital economy. The reason why is clear: Eight-four percent of customers are demanding more digital services than ever before, and platforms—digital places where companies, suppliers, and customers come together to create value that provides a benefit to everyone involved—are the most seamless, cost-effective way to meet these demands.

86% of executives say that platforms are the critical factor for success in the digital economy.

The Power of Developer Ecosystems

Beyond platforms, the report findings also underscore the importance of developer ecosystems. Our survey found that almost seven out of 10 executives, 69 percent, say that selling third-party products is important to meeting customer needs. Moreover, 68 percent of executives say ecosystems are the only way to innovate quickly to meet customer demands.

Figuring Out "Build vs. Buy" Is the Biggest Challenge

Digital transformation is a complex undertaking, and it can create a host of challenges. The most common? Answering the “build versus buy” question—whether to use internal resources to create a platform solution, or work with a third-party vendor to acquire it. More than a third of executives, 34 percent, face this challenge, followed by company culture, cited by 32 percent of executives, as well as the expense of upgrading legacy systems and a lack of budget overall, each faced by 31 percent of executives.

The Bottom Line: Digital-First Is a Matter of Survival

Of all of the findings from our survey, this may be the most important: Almost seven in 10 executives, or 69 percent, believe that, in five years, only businesses that have digitally transformed will survive. Clearly, digital transformation is now an imperative for success in the data-driven, always-on, customer-first, global digital economy.

You can explore the results of our survey by downloading the entire Digital Economy Report.


Gretchen Dukowitz is the Senior Content Marketing Editor at AppDirect.