Third platform

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[1]The third platform[2][3] is the third model of computing platform. It is defined by IDC as the inter-dependencies between mobile computing, social media, cloud computing, and information / analytics (big data),[4][5][6] and possibly the Internet of Things.[7] Gartner claims[when?] that these interdependent trends are "transforming the way people and businesses relate to technology".[8][not in citation given]

The paradigm of numbered platforms sees the first platform as the mainframe computer system and the second platform as the client/server system. The Open Platform 3.0 initiative of The Open Group aims to produce a consensus definition of the third platform, and to identify open standards for it, in order to help enterprises gain business benefit from these technologies. This has produced an analysis of requirements.[9] In January 2016 The Economist offered the following analysis: "The third platform is based on the online computing "cloud" and its interaction with all manner of devices, including wirelessly connected ones such as smartphones, machinery and sensors (known collectively as the "internet of things").[10]

First platform, second platform, third platform and fourth platform[edit]

The first platform is the mainframe computer system, which began in the late 1950s and continues today. The second platform is the client/server system, which began in the mid 1980s with PCs tapping into mainframe databases and applications.[11]

First Platform (Mainframe) - late 1950's to present

Second Platform (Client/Server) - mid 1980's to present

Third Platform (Social, Mobile, Cloud & Analytics, possibly IoT) - early 2010's to present

Fourth Platform - despite the term being used by some consultants and IT companies, there is no clear consensus on a definition. Discussions around the fourth platform are currently mostly predictions about what it might include.

Third platform's four pillars[edit]

It is generally accepted that there are four pillars (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) in the third platform, with IoT as one of its main accelerators.[12][13][14]

Social technology[edit]

Gartner defined a social technology as, “Any technology that facilitates social interactions and is enabled by a communications capability, such as the Internet or a mobile device.” This extends not only to social media but also to all social technologies that make social interaction possible. A VoIP service, for example, would be considered a social technology.

In a trend that has been described as ‘social everything’, companies both big and small, will continue to inject a social element into every product and service. The cloud provides the infrastructure that makes the information accessible, the social technology helps to organise the data and facilitate access, and the mobile devices will provide the means by which most people receive the data.[15]

Mobile devices[edit]

The third platform is designed to give everybody access to big data via mobile devices; it is this mobility that really defines the third platform. A company representative on the road or working from home will have instant access to data through his or her mobile device with this third platform whenever and wherever they need it.

An example of the use of mobile devices in the third platform would be a school that gives every student a tablet. The tablet would take the place of textbooks and paper used in assignments, but more importantly, the student will have access to a virtual classroom at additional times.[15]

Analytics (big data)[edit]

The concept behind big data is to maximise the utility of all data. An executive at a company that streamlines its business functions with the third platform would have easy access to all of the data, including sales figures, personnel information, accounting data, financials and so on. This data can then be used to inform more areas of the business.

Big data can be further differentiated once we analyse its three distinguishing features: variety, volume, and velocity.

Variety means that many forms of data are collected, with formats ranging from audio and video, to client log files and Tweets. Volume represents the fact that big data must come in massive quantities, often over a petabyte. Finally, Velocity signifies that big data must be constantly collected for maximum effectiveness; even data that is a few days old is not ideal.

In summary, big data utilises and collects all forms of data, gathered from both traditional and digital sources, in order to complement a company’s decision-making processes.[15]

Cloud services[edit]

Cloud services are at the heart of the third platform. Having big data and mobile devices is one thing, but without the cloud, there will be no way to access this data from outside of the office.

This differs greatly from the first platform, where computer networks consisted of large mainframes. All of a company’s employees had access to the data in the mainframe but they could only access it through their desktop computers. In the second platform, a company’s employees could access the data in the mainframe as well as outside data, via an Internet connection.

The third platform will allow all of a company’s IT solutions to be available through the cloud, accessible via a variety of mobile devices. Data storage, servers and many IT solutions, which are on-site, can now be cloud-based.[15]

Alternate Names[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "'Third platform' shift triggers enterprise software evolution | ZDNet". ZDNet. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  3. ^ "EMC World 2013: EMC hails rise of third platform apps". IT PRO. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  4. ^ Golden, Bernard. "As IDC Sees It, Tech's 'Third Platform' Disrupts Everyone". Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  5. ^ IDC Predictions 2013: Competing on the 3rd Platform
  6. ^ Research and Markets Report: Global Third Platform Market 2012-2016
  7. ^ Convergent Technologies Survey: The Open Group, 2013
  8. ^ The Nexus of Forces: Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information
  9. ^ Open Platform 3.0 Business Scenario: The Open Group, 2013
  10. ^ "Tech pundits' tenuous but intriguing prognostications about 2016 and beyond". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  11. ^ "Defining the Third IT Platform: Key 2014 Trends Identified by IDC". Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  12. ^ "IT Shifts to Third Platform as Mobile Spend Grows by 20%". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  13. ^ "As IDC Sees It, Tech's 'Third Platform' Disrupts Everyone". CIO. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  14. ^ "The next information revolution will happen in 2016 - are you ready?". TechRadar. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  15. ^ a b c d "What is the Third Platform?". Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "IDC - 3rd Platform". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  18. ^ "A New Generation of Data Requires Next-Generation Systems". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  19. ^ "Cloud Computing: Business Move to the 'Third Platform' — the Nexus of Forces | Formtek Blog". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  20. ^ "The next information revolution will happen in 2016 - are you ready?". TechRadar. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  21. ^ "SMAC". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  22. ^ "Supply Chain Management:Impact of SMAC on Enterprise Software Applications". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 

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