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Amazon, Google…and Accela? The Power of the Platform

Amazon, Google…and Accela? The Power of the Platform

Amazon, Google and Accela are three distinct companies with one core commonality. We have all built platform solutions that are unique to our industries.

Maury introduced the Civic Platform in August at Accela Engage 2014, and we gave more detail in a recent blog post, “What Does the Civic Platform Mean to Me?” Because the Civic Platform is so powerful, and encompasses so many solutions, with value to many different types of people, over the next several months we will post several series of blogs to demonstrate the power and value of the Civic Platform, and how it can benefit you, your agency and your community. But first, let’s get down to basics: what is a platform?

What is a platform?

A platform is a technological foundation on which one or more firms and partners can build complementary products, services and systems, supporting an ecosystem of innovation. Going to a platform model rather than providing multiple standalone products creates value in that it has the ability to be crowdsourced. Platforms can be customized and built upon, resulting in an ecosystem that is mutually beneficial. This is exactly what companies like Amazon, Google, Apple and Accela have done.

How Accela is like Amazon and Google

Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and others have created platforms that have become vibrant ecosystems predicated on collaboration, rapid development, emerging technologies and a combination of internal and external innovation. By creating a platform strategy, these firms have become world-class leaders and have changed entire industries.

Amazon expanded its e-commerce business by building an extensive IT infrastructure and exposing the capabilities to external application developers through the Amazon Web Services platform, ultimately driving network activity. Google built a scalable software infrastructure, expanding into SaaS and utility computing with Google Apps, a suite of business productivity apps delivered as a service, through a web browser. Since enterprises often require customizations to basic applications, Google exposes Apps APIs so third parties can provide complementary products. Finally, Salesforce has created the Force.com Builder for developers to create apps, which they can list on the AppExchange for free.

Yet, a government platform has never been built, and herein lies the power and potential of the Accela Civic Platform—we have the ability to create an ecosystem to benefit not only our company, but also the developer community, agencies, citizens and partners alike.

Tim O’Reilly said it well when he spoke about Gov 2.0 being all about the platform:

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The Civic Platform

By creating the Civic Platform, we are enabling both internal and external innovation. The Platform provides an out-of-box solution, enables both customization and best practices and empowers people to build and deploy new solutions on top of it that solve specific problems. Going forward, we will continue to grow the Civic Platform to expand the ecosystem.

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For example, in collaboration with partners and developers we want to continue to expand the number of apps we offer, and enable developers to create new solutions. In the future, the Civic Platform will include social media and gamification to enable government agencies to communicate with citizens and to help them market success in meaningful ways. By expanding the Civic Platform, we can enable agencies to become heroes and engage citizens at a whole different level.

Read more about the Civic Platform here.

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