Here’s an interesting way to think about online marketplaces: as a symphony orchestra performance. Think about it for a second and it has some pretty striking analogies.
There is, first, the audience for the performance; they are the buyers in this marketplace, the consumers who have turned up and paid good money to hear the orchestra. They’ve been attracted by factors such as the quality of the musicians, the venue, and the repertoire.
Second, there are the musicians who are playing the music for the audience; from lead violin all the way through to percussionists. Without them, there would be no show. The musicians are the vendors of the marketplace, bringing their wares and expertise to market. Just as any great orchestra consists of the most talented musicians available, a great marketplace consists of high quality vendors who know their stuff.
Third, and providing the bridge between the musicians and audience, is the orchestra’s conductor; this is the person charged with the task of getting all those musicians to play in unison, allowing them to be individually creative while staying true to the musical score. The conductor is the marketplace, orchestrating the talents of the vendors to align with the score, which is the underlying purpose of the marketplace.
As the conductor, you don’t actually play the music. That’s for the orchestra musicians to do. What you do is conduct and orchestrate what each of these musicians play, working off the score as your blueprint, creating an experience for the audience (the consumers of the music) that is much more than the sum of its parts.
4. Concert hall/enterprise marketplace platform
Fourth, you have the platform that allows all of this to happen; the concert hall and everything within it that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This is the infrastructure. This is what Marketplacer brings to the performance, the enterprise marketplace platform required to make it all sing.
As marketplace platforms such as Uber, Upwork, and Airbnb have demonstrated, new markets and value are being derived by companies that recognise the shift from pipeline to platform. These companies are not controlling scarce resources in the traditional sense; what they are doing is orchestrating resources to achieve new value in reimagined markets.
Platform businesses bring together producers and consumers in high-value exchanges. Their chief assets are information and interactions, which together are also the source of the value they create and their competitive advantage.
Going back to our musical analogy, replace the words “platform businesses” with “conductors” and you can start to hear the music in high fidelity.
Of course, a great conductor needs the very best support by way of an acoustically perfect concert hall that will keep the audience coming back for more. In much the same way, a marketplace needs the support of an enterprise marketplace platform that will keep buyers coming back for more.
It’s time to lift your baton and tune up your orchestra…