For all that has been written about platforms, not much attention has been paid to the synergistic nature of platforms and business ecosystems. Platforms emerge from complex ecosystems, and, at the same time, platforms create and evolve complex ecosystems. As the author of this article states:
A decent platform will motivate third parties to do business on its behalf. It will encourage these other companies to make risky investments in innovation. And it will stimulate a good deal of content that binds the how platforms ecosystem in one body of collectively created and curated intelligence. That’s what makes it an ecosystem.
This concept of a platform being a collectively created and curated intelligence is an interesting and insightful one. A platform is a means for disparate and independent entities to coordinate actions for the benefit of others. The coordination and advancement is done through a distributed control architecture in which the semi-invisible hand of the platform owner influences behaviors in proper directions.
The author is quick to point out that an ecosystem is not a community.
An ecosystem is far more than a community or a group. It is a series of interdependencies that enable business development among people in the ecosystem. … Often these people have no direct contractual relationship. They prosper by creating ecosystem elements that become integral to how the ecosystem functions
Instead, by thinking of ecosystems as a collectively curated body of intelligence, one can start to get an idea of the power of platforms and how a well-operating platform can create so much value.