Platforms are having a moment. Should insurance companies care?

Executive Summary

Inspired by a section of his soon-to-be-published book, "From Stone Tablets to Satellites: The Continued Intimate but Awkward Relationship Between the Insurance Industry and Technology," veteran insurance and technology analyst Barry Rabkin provides his definition of commerce platforms, explains why insurance carriers should care about them, and offers his views on which platform owners provide the most value to platform consumers and producers.

Increasingly more firms from different industries say that they offer platforms. The technology firms your insurance carrier or agency works with, manufacturers making smartphones or tablets, payment solution firms like PayPal, retail companies such as Amazon and Walmart—all say they offer platforms.

None of these firms provide a description or definition of what they mean by the term “platform,” but why get picky? It is the go-to-market topic du jour.

To be fair, I believe that each of these firms are correct in the narrow sense that their platforms offer services to companies.

However, corporate users of these platforms are passive. They consume value rather than being able to also create different types of value for themselves and for others who use the platform.

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