• Design
        • The most significant opportunities to impact the cost of building and operating a ship are found in the design and engineering phase.

          Initial Design  |  Basic Design  |  Detailed Design

        • Build
        • Even a smaller shipbuilding project is immense in scope and scale. Manage the challenges that are unique to ship construction.

          Prepare  |  Fabricate  |  Assemble

        • Maintain
        • With the majority of a ship’s life taking place after it’s been built, it’s crucial to ensure that the organization has a clear picture of the vessel at all times.

          Digital Twin  |  Repair / Refit  |  Operations

        • Nexus
        • SSI Nexus is the place where users, creators, & implementers of SSI software get together. Here they discuss best practices & industry trends, tackle common challenges, gain access to the latest software, and provide input into the future of the products that bring them together.

        • MyLearning
        • SSI MyLearning is where SSI users can access detailed training exercises, materials, courses, and certifications. The self-directed training curriculum ensures that training happens on your schedule and when you need it most.

        • SSI Blogs
        • The SSI blog is your place to get insights into the intersection of shipbuilding and technology, how our industry is moving forward, and keep up with SSI news. It’s the only place to read the latest from Denis Morais and Darren Larkins, SSI’s co-CEOs.

          Lighthouse Waveform  |  Shipbuilding Solutions

        • ShipConstructor
        • Engineering information is a shipbuilder’s most important asset. Getting that information to fit your business means using a solution that is built to handle shipbuilding’s unique challenges and information requirements throughout each stage of a vessel’s lifecycle.

        • EnterprisePlatform
        • Every process in a shipyard requires data. Seamlessly sharing that data across tools in the correct format needed allows for meaningful, actionable information to be consumed throughout the organization. Providing the freedom to choose the tailored tools required for a shipbuilding project.

        • ShipbuildingPLM
        • ShipbuildingPLM is the only product lifecycle management (PLM) platform that is specifically built for the business of shipbuilding. It allows your shipyard to manage and organize information, understand change, build a foundation for digital innovation, and support MRO activities – without the risks and costs of traditional PLM implementations.

        • Company
        • Learn more about SSI and our leadership.

        • Locations & Contact
        • You need a partner with a global presence.

        • News
        • The latest on SSI and shipbuilding.

        • Events
        • Join us at our next event, conference, or trade show.

        • Partners
        • Learn more about our Platform and Development Partners.

        • Clients
        • See the industry leaders who trust SSI.

        • Careers
        • Help us make the business of shipbuilding possible.

March 22, 2016

There is no shortage of articles about platforms and all other names it is called by (Business Platforms, Platformization, Innovation Platforms, etc.). I have even wrote about platforms in several blog posts:

How will Platformization affect standards?

Product-As-A-Service in Shipbuilding

Looking at Investing in PLM?

Knock Knock, the future is calling and it is asking for an Open Architecture

There is no doubt that platforms will be the future of the software systems we will be using. There is a lot of discussion about what makes a good viable platform. Most of the discussion are around how open the platform is or the strategy of their API or even the viability of their technology stack. Even though all those are ingredients that are required to make a viable platform, I think there are two aspects which do not get discussed very often. The first is the strength of the developer community which builds on top of the platform and the other is the strength of the partners (sales/consulting/training/implementers) community.

Developer Community Ecosystem

Platforms are designed to be extended and this is (or should be) a first class citizen feature. If the platform cannot be easily built on top of, is it really a true platform? With a properly implemented platform, adding additional features or even streamlining a workflow for a specific market, industry or user is relatively easy.

For a platform to be easily extended it will require an API (Application Programing Interface) to allow developers to add additional functionality to solve a specific problem for a task. The API should provide controlled access to the underlying data model and to various actions from external applications built on top of it.

However, not all platforms are built the same. Some only provide a very small subset of APIs which can limit what can be extended. Also the APIs can be very convoluted and difficult to use which will increase the difficulty of something in the platform being extended.

The best way to measure the quality of the APIs and the right amount of openness of the platform is to look at the developer community. If there is a healthy developer community, then most likely the APIs are easy to use, have great training material, provide the right amount of access to internal data/processes and have many examples.

A good developer community that builds many extensions on the platform is the ultimate way to decide how successful the platform really is. It does not matter what is the strategy of the platform, the technology stack the platform uses or any other criteria we use to critique the platform. A successful platform has a healthy developer community and ecosystem.

Partner Community Ecosystem

The products we are creating these days are extremely complex and require us to take a systems engineering approach and leverage expertise from several domains throughout the lifecycle of our products. The software community is finally converging on the thought that there is no one software company that can solve all your challenges. This is one of the drivers why now most software companies are trying to create a platform instead of a monolithic closed system and why they are pushing the marketing message of “We are Open.”

Just as we realized that we need to use the best-of-breed approach and leverage multiple different software application from various vendors, we need to realize that any partner (seller of the software/Consultant/Implementer/Trainer) does not have all the expertise we will need to define, implement, train and maintain our system within our organization.

The strength of the partner community is often overlooked. However, I would argue that a significant amount of the failed implementations of software is because of the lack of skills of the partner and not the software or users.

I do not think a partner needs to have all the expertise you require in-house but they should be able to bring in other partners with expertise in areas where they lack. Obviously larger partners (bigger companies) may have more expertise in house; however, it does not negate the fact that in certain situations they would still need to leverage other partners.

A partner community which is collaborative and can work together is another important and overlooked area in determining a good platform. Just like software, if partners work together leveraging each other’s expertise the end result for their customer is significantly better. A better result for the users using the platform means the better the platform. This might sound crazy since most technology people think of the platform purely as technology. Even though the technology of a platform might be amazing, without a good partner ecosystem to support it, the platform never reaches its true potential.

Closing Remarks

Platforms are designed to be extended and built on top of. We can measure a good platform by looking at the technology details of the platform (API, language support, technology stack, delivery systems, messaging strategy, etc.) but I can guarantee that we will never agree on all those details.

Creating a successful platform is very difficult and require much more than just good technology. There is definitely a technology aspect to creating a platform; however, technology is only a portion of what makes a platform successful.

A successful platform will have:

  1. A good developer community ecosystem to add additional features and/or workflows to solve very specific challenges for users
  2. A good partner community ecosystem which leverages expertise in other partners to solve users challenges in the best possible way.

Creating ecosystems are very difficult and I have really only scratched the surface in this post. I would like to hear your thoughts on other important requirements that need to be considered for a platform.


Don't Miss These Shipbuilding Strategies

Subscribe to the Shipbuilding Solutions blog and get actionable strategies and best practices from industry experts.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.