IDATE DigiWorld Summit 2012 « Platforms & Shovels for the next Gold Rush » plenary session panel introduction

Digiworld Summit 2012, 15Nov – Philippe Dewost (Caisse des Dépôts) – Plenary Session
from DigiWorld by IDATE

Here is the introduction speech I gave for the « Platforms & Shovels for the next Gold Rush » plenary session panel I ran on Nov 15th in Montpellier during IDATE DigiWorld Summit 2012.

« Thank you François and Yves to have asked me to run and moderate this last panel. Caisse des Depots, a long term investor playing a pivotal role in sustaining french economy, has been indeed a long time standing partner of IDATE

This is my first time at the DigiWorld summit and after what I’ve seen and heard over these past 36 hours, I am sure it won’t be the last one !

Our plenary session faces two challenges:

  • One, it is the last one and is therefore supposed to embrace what was delivered since the summit’s beginning and bring a fresh outlook on platforms
  • Two, it is tangled between two high profile keynotes, and short after your lunch, which will urge our panelists to keep it vivid and engaging.

Before introducing our panelists, I’d like to make 2 preliminary comments on our topic « Platforms and shovels of the next gold rush »

1/ about platforms

Platforms are not new, but have become a masterpiece in the current digital game plate. This has been mainly due to the combined ground work of Moore and Metcalfe’s laws, and the singular breakthroughs of a few disruptors in devices and services. The speed at which the market has reconfigured makes today’s positions less than eternal and hopefully not just transient: but looking backwards, who have dare to predict, 6 years ago, that Nokia would move so quickly from #1 to burning platform, or that an online book seller would initiate the cloud computing revolution and hit an estimated $1 Bn revenue mark in 2012, by allowing any team of software engineers to rent massive amounts of storage and computing, sometimes for just a few days?

2/ about the gold rush and the underlying business issues

Platforms, be they devices, cloud services, market places all have in common the fact that they are two sided business models. Two sided business models are about controlling a portion of a value chain by deploying both client and server, in device app and service, for the sake of both market coverage AND dependancy reduction.

Platforms however go beyond 2 sided business models as they try to create dependancies for others. By exposing carefully some of your inner workings to partners through APIs allows you to extend your customer reach without having to reach the customers yourself, and to enable value creation on top of your infrastructure.

The whole trick is of course what you expose and what you keep under control. Even when you create a free service perception in the mass market, there is huge money at stake. So the only question, in each business, is to precisely define what you want to control and how the « openness » you display on the rest actually helps you strengthen such control. As a paradox, most key platform players actually do own their own infrastructure, in sometime massive ways as Pascal Cagni reminded us yesterday.

Yesterday was all about openness, choice, avoiding prisons on apps & devices since smartphones are themselves platforms. It was also about how broadband networks shall be deployed to cope with bandwith needs while capturing more of the value they create.

In the Cloud and Big Data space, we will face the exact same challenges, the same scale effects, hence this session.

The panel on stage is a high profile and interesting one with combining huge infrastructure vendors, both in networks (Dr Robert PEPPER, VP, Global Technology Policy of Cisco) and computing (Kedrick BROWN VP Telecom, Media, Entertainment of IBM global services), the mothership of cloud computing that is deploying a platform model on digital content including devices (Ryan SHUTTLEWORTH of Amazon Web Services UK), a telco known for its early expansion in business and value added services (Corrado SCIOLLA of BT Global Services) , and the founder of a disruptive company playing in the CDN, Cloud and DataCenter ecosystem (Julien COULON of Cedexis)

The rules we agreed on with the panelists are: no corporate lingua (to stay polite), few slides, conversation mode with 2 to 3 min single talks. Please welcome and support all the panelists in sticking to this promise and enjoy the session.« 

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