Section Five - Platform stakeholder analysis
A story about Helpinghandz (12 minutes)
In this section we work with an imaginary platform called HelpingHandz. HelpingHandz is a kind of TaskRabbit. To get an impression, watch this video (2 minutes):
HelpingHandz is a pretty straightforward platform. It is an online marketplace. People that have spare time and skills advertise them on the platform and, on the other hand, people that lack spare time and/or skills look for help.
Meet Tim. Tim is really good at hanging paintings. He can drill holes in any wall and has some spare time. So he made an account on HelpingHandz and advertises his skills. Meet Angela. Angela has this beautiful painting and this empty wall and no skills whatsoever. So, Angela finds Tim on HelpingHandz, a price is set, a painting is hung and HelpingHandz makes sure money is transferred and that both Tim and Angela review each other.
In this analysis we are going to look at the direct, indirect and indirect-indirect stakeholders. If you think about stakeholders of a platform it helps to think about the most important mechanisms of a platform:
Make a list of the direct stakeholders of HelpingHandz. How are they affected? Did you consult them? If you were designing, programming, thinking about or using this platform, would you take them into account?
Did you have the same direct stakeholders? Or have you identified other stakeholders? That does not matter, we are certainly not complete. Or maybe you have written down stakeholders that we have listed with indirect stakeholders. Let's take a look at that in the next section.
When you register yourself on HelpingHandz, you are directly involved. You have chosen it yourself. The same applies when you purchase services on HelpingHandz. When you run the platform, yes, you are definitely a direct stakeholder.
But there are also indirect stakeholders.
These are often people or organizations that have no direct relationship with HelpingHandz. They are experiencing the consequences, but they have not explicitly chosen to do so. On the other hand they might have seen it coming
For example, at Uber, the uber driver is a direct stakeholder, but the traditional taxi company (and its drivers) is an indirect stakeholder. This also shows that indirect stakeholders are not, by definition, less important.
Do you have to take all stakeholders into account? That is a very relevant question, especially when you are analysing the indirect stakeholders. For example, you could choose to limit the number of jobs you are allowed to do on HelpingHandz, because you don't want to facilitate unfair competition. But it may also be the case that you are then afraid of losing market share to the competition.
It depends very much on the worldview of the platform, the objectives and the pressure exerted by the indirect stakeholders. If HelpingHandz really strives to connect people that can help each other, they might be transparent to, for example, the tax authorities. If HelpingHandz mainly wants to grow, also at the expense of traditional handyman companies, it will do everything it can do, in order not to take indirect stakeholders into account, especially if their own interests are harmed.
Getting a good picture of indirect stakeholders and determining how you want to deal with them is often very important to the success of a technology (that is, a technology that achieves the desired impact).
Ring.com, for example, is a doorbell with a camera. The company knows what people who buy Ring.com want. But, what do parcel deliverers think about Ring.com? And neighbours? And the authority on personal data? How does Ring.com deal with that?
Okay, so we talked about direct stakeholder and indirect stakeholders, but there are also indirect-indirect stakeholders. These are part of the social fabric in which the technology functions. It is fun to try and determine indirect-indirect stakeholders.
First, use this template (CC7_Stakeholders_Template_Indirect_Indirect_Empty.pptx), then check out our answers in this template (CC7_Stakeholders_Template_Indirect_Indirect.pptx).
Most indirect-indirect stakeholders can be ignored. Depending on the world view of the platform you can decide if you want to ignore them. However, thinking about indirect-indirect stakeholders can also create new and sometimes (creepy) stakeholders. For example, people that offer to hang your painting but end up hanging you!
These so-called bad actors are the topic of crash course six!
Take aways from section five:
- To identify stakeholders you need to understand (the mechanisms) of the technology;
- With indirect and indirect-indirect stakeholders you can choose NOT to take them into account;
- That does not make them less important.
Some final words on crash course seven
And remember: platforms are a coded worldview!