Thursday, August 8, 2013

Online platform - What the hell is this?

I get a call once a fortnight from someone or other hawking an online platform. You know, the kind where you can have a single integrated platform for all your stuff. The discussion goes roughly like this

Sales person: We have an online platform that you can use
Me: What does it do?
SP: You can transition your entire teaching online
Me: What does it do?
SP: It is a single platform that can host your content, tests, videos, etc
Me: What does it do?....

This goes on for a while. Then slowly, I realize that said salesperson does not get sarcasm and I need to do better. So, I ask a few questions

Me: Will you come to my classroom and shoot videos?
SP: No, we provide a platform for hosting
Me: Will you edit and make my content online-ready
SP: The platform can host any type of content. (To be interpreted as NO)
Me: How much will it cost me?
SP: We can work on royalty model or revenue-sharing model.
Me (finally losing patience): Please send me proposal (that I can send to recycle bin) (mental note to self: Rajesh, you idiot. There is no such thing called as online platform. When will you learn?)

I can post questions on a blog, I can post videos on youtube and link it to my website and blog, I run a test series that has gazillion tests, in gazillion formats (Test series can be picked up from google for free). I can link all of these to my website at the cost of Rs. 0 per month paid over 1000 months. I need an online platform like I need a bullet to my head.

The content provider gives the content, youtube provides hosting services, blogs and test series are available for free. Now, if there is a value in putting all these together and packaging it well, online platforms might be able to justify the existence of the term, if they demonstrate this well.

Online platform is just a phrase used because it is perhaps trickier to say "I would like to enter into a revenue sharing or lease model with you. I bring nothing to the table". 

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