A product is more than the sum of its features. It is the whole sum of the philosophy behind it, its community, documentation, and customer support provided. Great software products today are increasingly defined by the ecosystems built around them. That’s because you can’t beat your competitors based on features alone—great platforms capitalize on network effects to enjoy exponential growth.
Our CEO Mustafa Sakalsız recently dwelled on the reasons behind the success of Salesforce and SAP. Sakalsız concluded that these brands owed their success to being development platforms rather than mere software products. A platform is not merely a technology or a product; it is a “strategy to mobilize and empower an ecosystem.” For a platform to mobilize an entire ecosystem of users, it needs to address a major pain point that they have. It should become the go-to tool for solving that particular pain and fit users’ needs like a glove. Products that people cannot make theirs do not form habits. Customization is how you make a product your own.
There were two prerequisites to building an ecosystem around your product until very recently:
- Coding skills
- A product vision based on a profound understanding of customer needs and different use cases
The coding part, as tricky as it might have been, was still doable. However, the ability to define all the possible use cases and the ways to address them were unattainable goals right from the start.
For that reason, it is impossible to design and bake into a platform sustainable, infinite growth at the conception stage. There is no way of accounting for all the customer needs a platform will run into in the future, and keep expanding the customer base by fulfilling all of them. Wary of the difficulty of this challenge, most platforms focus on a small part of the market whose needs they can understand and serve, settling for much less of a market share than they could aim for.
There is another way, though. Opening an API and letting customers modify the platform according to their needs is the most surefire way of nailing the product-market fit. Instead of wasting your time making baseless assumptions about what your customers want and need, opening the platform to them and letting them devise the solutions for their problems ensures customer success.
However, customization should not be solely the customers’ responsibility. Companies can guide and inspire these efforts by publishing no-code templates. No-code templates solve two problems at once: On the one hand, they negate the need for coding skills required for building an ecosystem around a product, and on the other hand, they help build and nurture that ecosystem by turning users into active participants who create value for everyone involved. No-code templates can be a great means of disseminating and sharing knowledge among stakeholders with similar needs.
Contributions from a community using a particular platform can trigger indirect network effects and unlock synergies for members. Users can integrate their solutions and solve even bigger problems than what the creators of the platform thought would be possible. These indirect network effects not only draw in more customers, but also immunize the product against the competition, for network effects are known to be much more difficult to overcome than a feature-based competitive edge.
A flexible platform that lends itself to customization and serves a diverse range of needs—this is where people want to be. With no-code templates, you are closer than ever to building a product that can spawn an entire ecosystem around itself.