What are the benefits of a Digital Platform?

Embarking on building a Digital Platform can be a rewarding experience for your organisation. It will mean you can benefit from faster innovation, higher quality (with improved reliability), reduced costs, and happy people. But it’s no small undertaking.

So, before embarking on a project, it’s important to understand the benefits and assess whether they align with your digital strategy. Here we attempt to unpack and understand the main benefits of a Digital Platform, to help you come to a better understanding of whether it is right for you.

There are many benefits, so we have broken them down into the following sections. 

A Digital Platform allows faster innovation

  • Faster time to launch. Automating and abstracting cloud setup and simplifying governance processes means a new Digital Service can be launched to customers within days.
  • Frequent updates. Creating an optimal deployment pipeline allows customer experiments in a Digital Service to be updated on at least a daily basis.
  • Increased focus on business problems. Institutionalising new policies that cross-cut departments means uncoordinated and/or duplicated processes can be eliminated, and people can focus on higher-value work.
  • More business model opportunities. Friction-free, rapid launches of Digital Services allow an organisation to separate its differentiating business functions from utilities and to quickly trial different business models in new marketplaces.

It invariably provides a higher quality solution

  • Fewer environmental issues. Automating configuration and infrastructure lowers the potential for environment-specific problems.
  • More deterministic test results. Centralising automated test executors reduces opportunities for nondeterminism in test suites.
  • Faster rollback. Creating an effective rollback system with health checks means deployment failures can be fixed quickly.

You will benefit from increased reliability

  • More operable services. Providing logging, monitoring, and alerting out of the box increases the operability of Digital Services, and helps users to quickly discern abnormal operating conditions.
  • Graceful degradation. Implementing circuit breakers and bulkheads on the wire for third-party systems allows Digital Services to gracefully degrade on failure.
  • Improved business continuity. Automating the entire platform infrastructure in the cloud creates new business continuity options.

Improved ways of working

  • Policy experimentation. Cutting across departments means new policies can be forged in inceptions, Chaos Day testing, secure delivery, and more. 
  • Drive new practices. Creating enabling constraints in user journeys can drive the adoption of new practices, such as restricting shared libraries to encourage decoupled domains for Digital Services.
  • Simpler processes. Establishing meaningful Service Level Objectives with an automated alerting toolchain can make You Build It You Run It production support easier to set up.

Take advantage of the most advanced technology

  • Use the best available technologies. Standardising cloud building blocks means the best available technology stack can be provided to Digital Service teams.
  • Traffic optimisations. Surfacing self-service, elastic infrastructure means Digital Service teams can easily optimise for fluctuating traffic patterns without significant costs.
  • Zero downtime updates. Consolidating service runtimes means functional updates can be continually applied with zero downtime for Digital Services.

Benefitting from reduced costs

  • Economies of scale. Centralising the Digital Service lifecycle means economies of scale can be achieved, as more Digital Service teams can be added without incurring repeat buy/build costs.
  • Easier cost management. Centralising self-service touchpoints for automated infrastructure allows infrastructure costs to be visualised and closely managed. 
  • Positioning security specialists in the Digital Platform teams means security threats can be more easily identified and Digital Services can quickly receive security updates. 

Ultimately you will have happier, more productive people

  • Lower cognitive load. Abstracting away the Digital Service lifecycle reduces your staff’s cognitive load, reducing lead times to less than 24 hours for a new joiner, a mover between teams, a leaver, or a new Digital Service team.
  • Easier to identify talent needs. Splitting business domains into Digital Services helps to highlight which domains are true business differentiators and require the most talented engineers.
  • Increased talent attractors. Using the latest cloud technology on Digital Platform and Digital Service teams will encourage talented engineers to join your organisation.
  • More recruitment options. Concentrating specialist skills in Digital Platform teams means recruitment efforts for Digital Service teams can focus on onshore/offshore developers, testers, etc. without requiring more costly, specialised cloud skills.

Contact us! 

We hope you find this useful. For more information about Digital Platforms take a look at our Digital Platform Playbook. We thrive on feedback and welcome contributions.   As you can see, we love building digital platforms!  If you’d like us to share our experience with you, get in touch in the form below.


We are often asked by our clients when is a good time to start building a digital platform. To help answer this question we’ve established minimum criteria that need to be met before funding is allocated and development work begins.

We recommend you revisit these criteria once a quarter in your first year, and once a year after that. This will help you to understand the target architecture of your Digital Platform, and continuously validate the vision for your Digital Platform.

  1. Multi-year funding
  2. Homogeneous workload
  3. At least one Digital Service team at outset
  4. Empowered teams
  5. Potential for five Digital Service teams

You need to be able to make allowances for multi-year funding

A Digital Platform is a significant investment. It’s a strategic asset rather than a cost-cutting liability. It’s funded as a product. 

Multi-year funding is a positive signal of a commitment to continuous improvement. Without that commitment, your Digital Platform teams will not be able to redesign platform capabilities to satisfy changing user needs, or leverage new commodity cloud services to reduce costs.

You need a homogeneous workload

A Digital Platform is based on a homogeneous workload, created by multiple Digital Services. If different Digital Services have heterogeneous workloads, your Digital Platform teams will be slower to deliver new features. They will have to seek consensus between different Digital Service teams on which platform capabilities need to be enhanced. The user experience for Digital Service teams will be diminished.

For example, a Digital Platform could support Kotlin microservices and React frontends. A team might ask for data pipelines to be supported as an additional workload type, for a one-off Digital Service. That request would be politely declined by the Digital Platform teams, and there would be a collaborative effort to find an alternative solution outside the Digital Platform. 

You need at least one Digital Service team from the outset

A Digital Platform starts with a minimum of one Digital Platform team and one Digital Service team. This means the first bi-directional feedback loop can be established between teams, and the initial platform features can be quickly validated. 

Your first Digital Service team needs to have completed its inception phase. This ensures the Digital Service workload is sufficiently well understood to begin construction of the Digital Platform. Otherwise, the delivery of new platform features will be slowed down, due to the rework needed to focus on a different workload type. 

A Digital Platform team that starts out without a Digital Service team will fall into the Premature Digital Platform Team pitfall.

You need empowered teams

A Digital Platform exists in an ecosystem in which Digital Platform teams are free to make their own technology choices. They need to work independently of any pre-approved tools, so they can experiment with new technologies that meet the particular needs of the Digital Service teams. 

In a similar vein, Digital Service teams have freedom within the Digital Platform ecosystem. The Digital Platform teams build platform capabilities with sensible defaults, and Digital Service teams can configure them as necessary. 

There needs to be some pragmatism. Digital Platform and Digital Service teams need to include pre-existing tools when exploring problems. However, the people best suited to make decisions are those closest to the work, and they must not be beholden to an old list of ill-suited technologies. 

There should be potential for five Digital Service teams

A Digital Platform has multi-year funding linked to a recognition that at least five Digital Service teams are likely to exist in the future. In other words, there needs to be sufficient product demand for at least five distinct Digital Services within your organisation. From our experience of building Digital Platforms with multiple organisations, we believe this is the tipping point at which strategically investing in a Digital Platform is beneficial.

If there is zero potential for five or more Digital Service teams, we don’t believe a Digital Platform is the right approach. You won’t achieve the economies of scale to validate the multi-year funding. A better approach would be to invest funding and resources directly into your handful of teams, ensuring they can build and operate their services.

Contact us!

We hope you find this useful. For more information about Digital Platforms take a look at our Digital Platform Playbook. We thrive on feedback and welcome contributions. As you can see, we love building digital platforms! If you’d like us to share our experience with you, get in touch in the form below.

A Digital Platform allows your organisation to accelerate its time to market, increase revenue, reduce costs, and create innovative products for your customers.

Equal Experts sees Digital Platforms as an essential part of the IT landscape across both the public and private sectors.  Read on to understand what a digital platform is, and how they empower Digital Services across an organisation.

At Equal Experts, we define a Digital Platform as:

A Digital Platform is a bespoke Platform as a Service (PaaS) product composed of people, processes, and tools, that enables teams to rapidly develop, iterate, and operate Digital Services at scale. 

A Digital Platform is a powerful tool and when used correctly it is:

  • Differentiating. It empowers your teams to concentrate on solving real business problems by abstracting away organisational complexities and toil.
  • A product. It’s built incrementally by incorporating feedback from your teams. It accelerates the delivery of Digital Services. It’s enduring.
  • Opinionated. It makes it easy for your teams to build, deploy, and operate Digital Services by providing a curated set of high-quality building blocks.

It’s also important to understand what a Digital Platform is not:

  • Not a commodity. It cannot be bought off the shelf, as it must satisfy the specific needs of your organisation. It’s built by weaving together open-source and bespoke commodity tools to create a technology accelerator.
  • Not a project. It isn’t a one-off development with a fixed end date. It needs to keep changing, as the needs of your teams will change based on their customers’ demands.
  • Not a universal infrastructure platform. It cannot run all cloud services for all possible consumers without weakening the proposition. It needs to focus on a subset of cloud services to support Digital Service workloads.

It’s important to remember that a Digital Platform isn’t a silver bullet. It’s a long-term commitment to Digital Services at scale. It’s not appropriate for all workloads, teams, or organisations. For more on this, see when to start a Digital Platform.

A Digital Service is a software service designed to fulfil a product capability and run on a Digital Platform. Such a service might be a monolith, or composed of multiple microservices. It’s usually based on modern software development principles, such as 12 Factor or Secure Delivery. It’s owned by a single Digital Service team responsible for understanding its customers, and producing a service that meets their needs.

As a good example, here’s a services diagram of a fictional Digital Platform in a retail organisation. It shows eight Digital Services in development within two different retail domains, as well as six platform capabilities within the Digital Platform itself.

A fictional Digital Platform

Fig 1: Digital Services on a Digital Platform


A Digital Platform is bespoke. It’s something unique, built solely for the Digital Service teams in your organisation. It’s founded on custom building blocks made by your Digital Platform teams, and commodity cloud services from your public cloud. It’s about peoples, processes, and tools coming together to form platform capabilities. A public cloud can’t provide you with a Digital Platform out of the box. Nor can an off the shelf product from a vendor. But there are many advantages and opportunities that come with a public cloud as a foundation for a Digital Platform.

Paved Road

A Digital Platform is a set of Paved Roads. Each Paved Road consists of low-friction, hardened interfaces that comprise user journeys for Digital Service teams (e.g. build a service, deploy a service, or service alerts). Those paved user journeys are fully automated and encompass the learned best practices specific to your organisation. 

A Paved Road is built incrementally by Digital Platform teams. Each platform capability is delivered in small increments, and adjustments are made based on user feedback. Over time, as each platform capability becomes more opinionated, the Paved Road becomes wider and longer. Enabling constraints are used to encourage frequent production deployments and high standards of reliability for long-lived Digital Services.

A Paved Road eliminates common failure modes, by automating repetitive tasks. It encourages the adoption of Continuous Delivery and Operability practices, such as constant monitoring of live traffic, and steers away from pitfalls such as End-To-End Testing. It challenges Digital Service teams to rethink how they approach particular problems, and contribute enhancements and features back into the Paved Road experience. 

Bi-directional feedback

A Digital Platform is primarily about the people who build it and use it. It exists to satisfy its users’ needs, through technical or non-technical means. The value of its capabilities is derived from the ability of its Digital Platform teams to talk to and learn from its Digital Service teams. It’s the responsibility of the Digital Platform teams to create an ecosystem of bi-directional feedback loops. User feedback allows Digital Platform teams to better understand which technology building block or organisational process needs to be improved, and industrialised so that all teams can benefit. 

For example, feedback from your Digital Service teams might include complaints about a historical, time-consuming change-approvals process in your organisation owned by an overworked change management team. Your Digital Platform needs to provide an automated deployment pipeline that acts as an automated audit trail. If your Digital Platform teams can present a live audit trail that reduces toil for the change management team, their needs might be met by a streamlined, self-service process, in which Digital Service teams peer-review their own change requests.

Contact us!

We hope you find this useful. For more information about Digital Platforms take a look at our Digital Platform Playbook. We thrive on feedback and welcome contributions. As you can see, we love building digital platforms! If you’d like us to share our experience with you, get in touch in the form below.

A Digital Platform optimised for the delivery of Digital Services can be an accelerator for your organisation. 

The Equal Experts Digital Platform playbook is our thinking on why, when, and how to build Digital Platforms.  We have found that, under the right circumstances, introducing a Digital Platform enables an organisation to achieve Continuous Delivery and Operability at scale.

Our approach is based on first-hand experience building Digital Platforms in a wide range of domains such as Government, Financial Services, Retail and Utilities and our deep expertise in helping organisations adopt  Continuous Delivery and Operability principles and practices.

To be competitive, your organisation must rapidly explore new product offerings as well as exploit established products. New ideas must be validated and refined with customers as quickly as possible if product/market fit and repeatable success are to be found.

You might have multiple teams in a brownfield or greenfield IT estate, where your ability to deliver product features is constrained by your technology capabilities. In either scenario, a Digital Platform optimised for the delivery of Digital Services can be an accelerator for your organisation – if you can make a multi-year commitment to investment. A Digital Platform isn’t a small undertaking and requires ongoing funding for you to realise the greatest benefits.

Who is this playbook for

We’ve created this playbook to help you and your colleagues build a Digital Platform together. It’s for everyone in your organisation, not just software developers or operability engineers. That includes CIOs, CTOs, product managers, analysts, delivery leads, engineering managers, and more.

We’re strong proponents of cloud-native computing, serverless in all its forms, microservice architectures, and open-source technologies. However, the practices defined in our playbook are technology and vendor-agnostic, to allow you to determine the best way to adopt these ideas in the context of your organisation.

What it is about

It is worth noting that the playbook is a game plan in the sense that it is not a recipe for a single activity but an orchestration of a number of ideas that together make up a successful Digital Platform.  The playbook touches on topics such as What is a Digital Platform, its capabilities, benefits and when to start building one.  We have recommended principles to adopt and we outline the practices and pitfalls we’ve identified along our way.

Contact us! 

We hope you find this and our other playbooks useful. We thrive on feedback and welcome contributions.   As you can see, we love building digital platforms!  If you’d like us to share our experience with you, get in touch in the form below.