Unbundling Platforms and why there are no enterprise marketplaces

Original article was published by Michal Bacia on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

The foundation of the unbundled architecture consists of open protocols and standards for resolving identities and therefore reputation in an open ecosystem. Once we have solutions for identity, secure messaging and value transfer are also possible. Finally, there needs to be a decentralized mechanism to establish consensus about data of other ecosystem participants (an equivalent of auditing and certification in the analogue world). All of this needs to happen in a way preventing a single company from controlling identity, reputation and data consensus inside its proprietary silo. These have to be hosted in a transparent and decentralized way (similar to DNS). Otherwise, another bigger monopoly will emerge and no one will participate in the ecosystem.

At the moment blockchain technology is the best bet in terms of solving for all of the above requirements. It enables this in a cost and energy-efficient, tamper-proof and auditable way.

Modern commercial-grade blockchains are compliant, secure, reliable and operate at very high, commercial-grade speeds. They allow for launching a publicly-accessible network (for the general public and end-users) with permissioned, decentralized consortium of vetted validators (including businesses, regulators, developers, professional node operators).

The next, middle layer of the ecosystem consists of back-end, professional B2B solutions built on top of the protocol layer. These solutions include services, toolkits, libraries, SDKs, platforms that handle access management, value transfer (including billing and payments) and data management and storage. They are used by the specific top layer applications.

Finally, at the top, there are many lightweight front-end, user-facing applications. Due to the nature of the performed tasks, these are the new breed of assisted decision-making products. They generally provide some kind of data curation/matching, a directory/index of participating users and a user interface for humans and/or other machines (APIs).

These applications can resemble today’s platform in terms of user experience for low value and/or complexity products and situations (say matching customers with local restaurants), but they will be built using the open architecture so that users can opt-out of using selected services in a platform bundle and decide to build their own client apps instead (say someone with very specific dietary requirements and schedule can design an app that picks the best restaurant offers just for them).

On the enterprise end of the spectrum, most of the activities happen in-house, but enterprises have a secure, trusted and, at the same time, open environment to efficiently interact with each other and a large volume of smaller businesses.