Much of my work over the past decade has centered on the notion of building a platform in one way or another.\u00a0 It could be through architecting a major business service to meet a new regulatory need, defining, implementing, and managing partner integrations, participating in standards and data governance bodies, or exploring business partnerships to design a shared platform.\u00a0 I always loved connecting and exposing various parts of the organization, especially by means of external collaboration\u2014turning our intra-industry enterprises into inter-industry ecosystems.\nGiven the trendiness around all-things platform, I\u2019m obsessed with following this very buzzy word.\u00a0 Through research and discussing this topic with others, I\u2019ve distilled various thoughts into three groups (along with very broad generalizations for each):\n1. Platform as omnichannel experience\n\u201cMainstream\u201d business-oriented thinking\nWe all see and experience game-changing technologies on a daily basis.\u00a0 Business leaders\u2014and more importantly, customers\u2014want their companies to step up to deliver the same types of intuitive design and seamless experiences put forward by the likes of Starbucks, Domino\u2019s Pizza, and Amazon.\u00a0 Technology is important, but the focus tends to skew toward mobile apps (from the customer\/outside viewpoint) and \u201c360-degree\u201d customer relationship management (CRM) and data analytics (from the employee\/inside perspective).\n2. Platform as underlying technology(ies)\n\u201cMainstream\u201d technology-oriented thinking\nTechopedia defines platform as \u201ca group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed.\u201d\u00a0 Here, cloud technologies (especially platform-as-a-service [PaaS] and infrastructure-as-a-service [IaaS]), software development frameworks, and application and data integration are highly regarded to unify systems, provide data access, and managing increasing technical debt and complexity.\u00a0 Many in this group have bandaged systems just to keep the operational lights and realize how IT needs to both deliver more quickly to meet rapidly evolving business needs while keeping the organizational Jenga tower standing when moving blocks around.\n3. Platform as business model\n\u201cOutlier\u201d business and technology thinking, economists, futurists\nThe business itself is created or recreated to take advantage of the network effect.\u00a0 While a platform business might create products or services, they now seek to amplify (or even cannibalize) their existing offerings by leveraging the connections between people, machines, and products\/services.\u00a0 They transcend thinking about growth and value as being primarily for the firm\u2019s shareholders, then employees and customers; they aim to share growth and value amongst all who participate in their platform business\u2014the clich\u00e9 win-win, but at massive scale.\nI am a believer in all three of these characterizations and suggest that the first two platform definitions are pre-requisites to attaining the third.\u00a0 The good news is that many enterprises already bias (intentionally or accidentally) on either the experience-first or the technology-first side of the mainstream platform divide.\u00a0 Those who possess, or desire to have, mature service-orientation, system integration, and\/or standardized processes likely align closer to the technology-first viewpoint, while firms who are great relationship brokers and connect people to the right solution (especially in times where one must be agile to create a new solution) have more of an experience-first starting point.\u00a0\nPlatform-as-a\u2026sandwich?\nYou may already be familiar with the PaaS abbreviation, knowing that it represents the platform-as-a-service model of cloud computing; however, my hunger to unify the \u201cexperience platform\u201d and \u201ctechnology platform\u201d views inspired what I am calling the enterprise platform-as-a-sandwich model.\u00a0 \u00a0\u00a0I suggest that this culinarily inspired analogy works when we consider many of our enterprise business platforms.\u00a0 I continue to assert that the enterprise\u2019s full stack of services is the true platform and that we should all strive to become platform companies.\u00a0 Additionally, the singular platform desired by business leaders is actually a platform-of-platforms.\nWhile I\u2019m indifferent toward the edible BLT sandwich of bacon, lettuce, and tomato (I actually haven\u2019t had one in a long time), I am a huge fan of the BLT platform sandwich.\u00a0 This model features three areas: a business services platform, a technology services platform, and a linkage platform that unifies people, data, process, and systems (which in and of itself likely consists of one or more solutions or \u201cplatforms\u201d).\u00a0 Here is the graphical depiction of our platform-as-a-sandwich:\n Ethan Pack\n\nThe BL6T platform-as-a-sandwich model.\n\n\nA business services platform and a technology services platform represent the bread of our enterprise platform sandwich.\u00a0 And like a real sandwich, the insides of our \u201cbread\u201d face the internal enterprise while the organization\u2019s external consumers and contributors interact with\u2014or \u201ctouch\u201d\u2014the outside.\u00a0 The metaphorical meat, toppings, and condiments come via the linkage layer--this vital area is in between the experience-focused and technology-focused wrappers.\u00a0 Every human and machine component within the enterprise exists here; it contains the bulk of the \u201ccaloric energy\u201d contained within the enterprise platform.\u00a0\nThere are six categories in the middle \u201clinkage\u201d platform:\nLabor\nWithout people, the business doesn\u2019t move (at the time of this writing, at least).\u00a0 A firm\u2019s employees are the focal point in the labor domain.\u00a0 People are the enablers of change, affected by change, and ensure that business functions are successfully completed.\u00a0 This is the most important aspect of the entire business platform.\nLogic\nThe majority of an organization\u2019s \u201coperational central nervous system\u201d is here.\u00a0 This area addresses a how a company manages business processes and business rules\/decisions.\u00a0 The notion of event-driven architecture and responding to business moments is a strong requirement to provide the engaging intelligence and experiences of a platform business.\nLibrary\nThis area focuses on information management and knowledge management.\u00a0 Our companies have tons of data and many organizations are not able to use it fully today.\u00a0 I can only imagine how valuable library and information science graduates will be in helping organize our ever-growing data coffers.\nLedger\nThe various individual, divisional, and enterprise scoreboards are central to drive performance and growth, therefore this category is all about storing and analyzing data, connecting information to business results.\u00a0 Metrics and key performance indicators (KPI), operational-level agreements (OLA) and service-level agreements (SLA), and performance analysis sit at the forefront here.\nLegal\nMany of have already noticed how current laws and regulations fall short or otherwise do not work in an increasingly digitalized environment.\u00a0 Regardless, the rules are the rules and the focus in the legal domain is to ensure legislative and regulatory compliance of the business.\nLegacy\nThis area covers the firm\u2019s history, seizing the best aspects of the past and current state, the future-state vision and ambitions, and the organizational culture in past, present, and future\u2014as well as defining how cultural gaps should be addressed.\nEverything in this middle layer has relationships with nearly everything else.\u00a0 In this way, the meat of the platform sandwich is the actual enterprise architecture.\nWhile many platform discussions focus too heavily on the surface-level slices of bread, architecture and strategy leaders can help bring the meat to the forefront of their organizations\u2019 platform ambitions.\u00a0 The bread is the \u201csandwich delivery system,\u201d containerizing the ingredients within. While the type of omnichannel experience and core technology platform(s) one selects is important, there is little-to-no substantial differentiation to be found in the trends and tools alone.\nOrganizations must enhance the quality of the people \u201cbacon,\u201d the freshness of the data and process \u201clettuce\u201d, the juiciness of the technology \u201ctomatoes,\u201d the strategic seasoning sprinkled about, and cultural condiments spread across the landscape to make their unique flavor stand out in every byte.